The resolution, proposed by School Board Vice Chairwoman Janet Read, requests voters to reject the constitutional amendment that will be on the November ballot as a result of the passage of House Bill 1162.
Post 3 Board Member Michael Geist and Post 7 Board Member Kim Cochran voted against the measure. Post 6 Board Member Rob Usher was absent.
Cochran said there were a lot of aspects of the resolution she found troubling.
“I don’t like the inflammatory language included here,” she said, noting that the wording of the resolution seemed to allege that those who use vouchers or attend charter schools are worsening the district’s funding problems.
“I can’t believe we’re deliberating on putting that kind of idea into a published, official opinion of the board of education that’s supposed to represent the whole community that in this resolution is insulting a significant set of them,” she said.
Cochran said she didn’t believe the school board needed to issue an opinion on the matter, as a significant amount of state lobbying groups already do so.
Read responded by saying she put the agenda item on the meeting agenda earlier in the week in hopes that there would be more previous discussion via email “instead of just tonight.”
In response to public comment from a couple of Cherokee Charter Academy parents, School Board Chairman Mike Chapman said he was not opposed to the school and stressed that the board was there to ensure the school’s success.
“But let’s talk about some facts that are out there right now,” Chapman said. “We have a local delegation that continuously doesn’t vote to fund public education and I would warn the folks at Cherokee Charter Academy that you will be subject to that same activity once you have worn out your welcome.”
Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo added that the Legislature has not fully funded the Quality Basic Education formula and has no plans to do so.
“This is about who gets what share of the pie and when the state continually makes the pie smaller, they continually put pressure on the local school system to try do more with less and to deny kids the services that we know they need.,” Petruzielo said.
Petruzielo questioned when the last time the local delegation was “taken to task” for not funding public schools and went on to say public education is “not a priority” of the Georgia Legislature.
“This is not a time for the system to be gratuitous,” Petruzielo said, noting that the district is facing the “toughest” budget year for the 2012-13 school year he has faced in his past 13 years as superintendent in Cherokee County.
Geist said he believes Cherokee Charter Academy helps the school board address funding issues, as $4 million was given to the school last year due to the one-time funding grant from Gov. Nathan Deal.
“I hope the school board will recognize the positive impact (of the charter school) and realize it is truly a win-win for all,” Geist said.
Listed as item B-1 in the meeting agenda on the district’s website, the resolution notes “the lack of support for public education by those advocating school vouchers, state-approved charter schools, and other programs that allow public school funds to be redirected to private schools and for-profit charter schools” as reasoning to denounce the measure.
“The Cherokee County Board of Education believes that it should remain unconstitutional for the state to take and redirect local school tax dollars for the aforementioned purposes,” the proposed resolution states, noting the constitutional amendment “threatens the integrity of the existing statewide system of providing for and properly funding quality public education.”
The full resolution is available on the district’s website at www.cherokee.k12.ga.us.