published Friday, February 10th, 2012

Georgia House to reconsider vote on charter school plan

Georgia House of Representitives Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, speaks in Atlanta to a group of mostly students and parents in support of a law that allowed the creation of state approved charter schools during a rally last May.
Georgia House of Representitives Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, speaks in Atlanta to a group of mostly students and parents in support of a law that allowed the creation of state approved charter schools during a rally last May.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Lawmakers voted Thursday to give themselves a do-over on trying to change the state constitution so the General Assembly can create more charter schools, one day after the measure was rejected.

House lawmakers voted 114-49 to allow Republican Rep. Jan Jones to call another vote on the constitutional amendment that she sponsored. The timing of that second vote has not been scheduled.

In a blow to Republican leaders, the first vote Wednesday on the amendment fell short of the two-thirds majority required to alter the state’s constitution. Should that amendment pass the House, the change also must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the state Senate and a majority of Georgia voters.

Jones’ amendment was supposed to end the legal uncertainty created by a recent state Supreme Court ruling. Georgia’s top court decided in May that a commission that approved more than a dozen charter schools was unconstitutional because only local governments have the power to create schools. The ruling did not affect charter schools that previously were allowed by local officials.

School superintendents and local school boards have fought against the change, saying that supporters of the new charter schools never explained how the state would fund them.

Opponents said adding more charter schools could mean less funding for existing public school systems.

Jones said she intends to try again and may introduce companion legislation that explains how the state would fund new charter schools before calling another vote on the constitutional amendment.

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