The resolution, if passed by voters in the Nov. 6 elections, would overturn a 2011 Georgia Supreme Court decision and permit the state to establish special charter schools even when local school boards object. The measure would also permit redirection of tax dollars to fund the special schools.
Hines told a Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce "Eggs and Issues" audience that HR 1162 would allow the governor to set up a commission to establish a parallel set of charter schools without input from local education boards.
“We are not against charter schools,” he stressed to the Museum of Aviation crowd, “but if it’s flexibility the state believes we need, then give us the flexibility.”
Hines said the state charters would receive $7,000 per student compared to the $3,000 the county now receives for its charter school.
“That is a big deal,” he indicated. “We’ve got to do the things that stop diverting money from public schools, particularly at a time when 120 school systems across the state will not be able to work a full schedule this year due to funding.”
Supporters of HR 1162 say the measure is meant to offer parents additional options for their children at a time when the demand for charter schools is increasing. Some 16 state chartered schools were established before the Georgia Supreme Court ruling last year.
Critics of the resolution say it would be “taxation without representation” since political appointees would be able to override the wishes of school boards and local voters and divert funding.
Hines urged voters to become better acquainted with HR 1162 then “vote your conscience.”
The superintendent said the Houston County educational system – with a projected enrollment of 27,700 students this school year – is exceeding the state average in essentially every category including fifth, eighth and eleventh grade writing assessments, end-of-course testing and graduation rates.
In criterion-referenced competency testing, Houston County students outperformed the state on all 30 tests, he noted.
“We have the best teachers anywhere and our teachers continue to step it up,” he said. “Also, 100 percent of our teachers are teaching in the field they trained to teach.”
He said the prevailing mission is to produce high achieving students.
“And we work on that every single day,” Hines indicated. “Our vision is that our system will be world class. We want our kids to be able to compete with any student anywhere in the world.”
The system is also a proven, good steward of tax payer dollars, the superintendent underscored, after ten consecutive years of outstanding financial audits with no findings and no qualifications.
“That’s a huge deal,” Hines told the museum audience. “When the auditors come they just don’t find anything.”