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Voters reject Opportunity School District
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Georgia voters rejected Amendment 1, or the Opportunity School District, proposition on this year’s ballot.

By a vote of 59.95 percent to 40.05 percent, Georgia voters rejected the measure which would have authorized the state to take over schools judged to be failing. The amendment to the Georgia Constitution was defeated by 799,571 votes state-wide. In Newton County, the vote was 62.71 percent to 37.29 percent against the amendment — a difference of 10,973 votes. None of the schools identified as eligible for state takeover are in Newton County.

The question on the ballot for Amendment 1 was ““Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

Newton County voters answered that question with a resounding “no”.

“I really want to thank the citizens of Newton County for doing their homework and looking into what it meant,” said Almon Turner, chair of the Newton County School System (NCSS) Board of Education. “The wording was deceiving and I commend voters for understanding what was at stake.” The NCSS Board was one of the first school boards in Georgia to pass a formal resolution opposing Amendment 1.

Shakila Henderson-Baker, District 4 director for the Georgia School Boards Association and a NCSS board member, said, “I am excited about the people’s decision. The fact the results were not even close sends the message that a proposed amendment without clear reform is not the answer.”

“It is important that we maintain local control of our local tax dollars and that members of our local boards of education continue to be the conduit for improvement and change,” said Samantha Fuhrey, NCSS superintendent.

In a post-election statement, Georgia’s School Superintendent Richard Woods presented plans to engage all stakeholders in conversations aimed at identifying school-specific solutions to help “chronically struggling” schools. He said, “We cannot apply a one-size-fits-all approach. We must look at each school and individualize support to best meet its needs.”

Turner and Henderson-Baker agreed and added that new state funding will be needed to help those schools implement locally-developed solutions.