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Posted: November 7, 2012 12:54 a.m.

Georgians approve charter amendment

Georgians have approved a constitutional amendment that would allow a new state board to issue charters for private operators to run independent public schools.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, more than 2 million voters - or 58 percent - supported the proposal. A total of 1.44 million or 42 percent opposed it.

In Newton County, support was even higher, as 69 percent of voters (28,603) supported the amendment, despite the Newton County Board of Education and other leaders opposing the amendment.

Gov. Nathan Deal and school choice advocates pitched the amendment as a way to give Georgia families more educational options. State Superintendent John Barge led educator groups in opposition, saying it would lessen local control and siphon public money away from existing schools.

Control over charters now rests mostly with local school boards, though operators who are denied can appeal to the state Board of Education. Georgia has about 200 charter schools already. They will not be immediately affected by the outcome.

In related news, Georgia voters also approved the statewide amendment allowing the state government to sign multi-year leases for rental properties, instead of only being allowed to rent a property for one year.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, 2.13 million (64 percent) of voters approved the amendment, while 1.21 million opposed it.

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