Dugan Pulls For Opportunity School District

District 30 State Senator Mike Dugan will be unchallenged for his seat on the November 8th ballot; but he is asking that voters head to the polls nonetheless, and check the ‘yes’ box on a proposal he himself is backing.
Dugan is asking voters to consider supporting Governor Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District plan.
Deal's (OSD) proposal is based on similar initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee, which would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools. 
  • In the governor’s proposal, persistently failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measure, the College and Career Performance Index, for three consecutive years. 
  • The OSD would take in no more than 20 schools per year, meaning it would govern no more than 100 at any given time.
  • Schools would stay in the district for no less than 5 years but no more than 10 years, and would then return to local control.
None of the schools in our region are currently eligible for OSD.

“We have it good in our part of the state,” Dugan told WLBB Radio Thursday. “Unfortunately there are individual schools in other parts of the state that don’t have it as well. For years they have been trying to fix their problems at the local level— which we all agree is the place you should try to fix that. But, after years— some schools coming on decades— of not being to achieve what they want to achieve, for the education of those children we have to try something else.”

That “something else” was presented to the Georgia General Assembly and approved as a constitutional amendment resolution in 2015. It now requires a majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election.

But local superintendents don’t seem too keen on the proposal.

Carroll County Schools Supt. Scott Cowart earlier this month said among the concerns that he and his board have is that the state has changed the way they have rated the CCRPI each of the last three years. “There is no consistency in how they grade the CCRPI from year to year because it has changed each year,” he said.

Both Cowart and Carrollton City Schools Supt. Mark Albertus have questioned the Georgia DOE’s right according to the referendum, to change the specifications that qualify a school for the Opportunity School District. It is currently stated to be a score of 60 or less on the CCRPI for three consecutive years.

"They could change the cutoff to 65 or 70 if they wanted to," said Cowart.
“Why would (DOE) do that?” Dugan asked WLBB Radio. “If that’s a reservation (superintendents) have— if it passes then we’ll amend it. If their concern is that we could change it to 65 or 70, we will put it in there that no schools over sixty will be considered. That’s easy enough to fix.”
Both superintendents have also raised the concern that private for-profit entities could have too much influence.
“I have the utmost respect for all five of the superintendents in the 30th district…we are fortunate to have those gentlemen in the jobs they are in and I typically refer to them for all things education (but)…” Dugan responded. “The same thing was said when we had the Charter Schools discussion a couple years back. I don’t foresee that coming into play. I don’t see them being able to get a business model that works for them in the schools we are talking about across the state. No, I don’t see that as a big issue.”
Albertus has another idea for those wanting to invest in the OSD.
“I would love to see the money that is going to be spent on this— and it is a lot of money— by private organizations… I would love to see the money be spent towards schools; getting the class sizes down… put in incentives to get the best superintendents, principals and teachers to go to some of the school districts that need help,” Alberrtus said on the WLBB Community Voice program last Friday. “Make no mistake about it, the Department of Education already has a plan and a program to help schools that fall into this category.”
On Thursday the state board of education— which is appointed by the governor—unanimously passed a formal resolution in support of deals’ opportunity school district proposal.
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Topics : Education