In November of 2016, Georgia voters in 152 of 159 counties voted down a constitutional amendment known as Amendment 1 (AKA: Opportunity School District). Even though many voters rejected the idea of more centralized state control in their public schools, Governor Deal was not deterred and asked Representative Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) to draft legislation that would allow the state to intervene in low-performing schools.

HB 338 was signed into law today by Governor Nathan Deal. The law aims to improve educational outcomes for Georgia’s lowest-performing schools. HB 338 identifies the lowest 5 percent of schools will be considered for interventions as defined by the state’s current school accountability system and the new federal law called Every Student Succeeds Act. Under the new state law, chronically failing schools will get three years to turn around their low-performance before the state intervenes.

After much work and collaboration with teacher organizations and other education groups, HB 338 eventually received bipartisan support for the intervention in low-performing schools from both legislative chambers.  Tanner’s collaboration created an effort to include more local control, which won the support of key Democrats, local school districts, and state education groups.

“Georgia remains committed to improving our state’s education system by increasing student access to high-performing schools and learning environments conducive to today’s academic standards,” said Deal. “To that end, Rep. Tanner has worked tirelessly with my office, members of the General Assembly and other stakeholders on HB 338. By focusing improvement efforts and education resources on our lowest-performing schools, our most vulnerable students will have greater opportunities for success. The educational investments in this legislation will produce long-term benefits for students, families, and communities by ensuring education outcome is not hindered by zip code, but rather enhanced by state support and local accountability. I want to thank Rep. Tanner, members of the General Assembly and many others who worked together for the benefit of Georgia’s current and future students.”

“It has been a true honor to work closely with Gov. Deal and his incredible team on HB 338,” said Tanner. “I believe that working to improve our state’s low-performing schools can have a greater impact on the future of our state than any other issue we could address as a General Assembly. I appreciate Gov. Deal’s leadership in this area, and I look forward to continuing to work with his staff and the State Board of Education to put this plan into real action.”

The new law will appoint a Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) who reports only to the appointed State Board of Education and is part of the GA Department of Education’s internal organization. The elected State School Superintendent is expected to be part of the collaborative efforts to help turnaround low-performing schools.

Deal also signed legislation addressing santuary policies, increased school choice opportunties for military children, testing standards, and governance and funding of charter schools.

In addition to HB 338, signed legislation includes:

·         HB 37, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart

·         HB 139, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton

·         HB 198, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey

·         HB 224, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton

·         HB 237, sponsored by Rep. Brooks Coleman

·         HB 430, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway

·         HB 437, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dickey

·         SB 186, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins

·         SB 211, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins

The education bills signed at today’s ceremony may be found here.

Click here to view the legislation and how your legislator voted for the bill during this year’s legislative session. The law takes effect on July 1, 2017.

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