GA House, Senate pass school turnaround bill

GA House, Senate pass school turnaround bill

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Georgia voters said "no" but state lawmakers said "yes" to the school turnaround bill.

This after Amendment 1 failed to pass on the ballot back in November.

So, what will this mean for the Savannah-Chatham Public School System's 12 chronically failing schools?

School board officials tell WTOC there's still a lot of uncertainty about how the state plans to carry out these plans and which schools will be impacted.

House Bill 338 may have been Plan B for state lawmakers when Amendment 1 failed on the November ballot, but Savannah-Chatham County School Board officials say the final bill - which passed the House and Senate earlier this week - includes two major changes: allowing school systems to maintain local control for at least three years before a possible takeover and the term failing has been replaced with the word "lowest-performing" schools.

"We anticipate the Governor's effort to maintain a chronically failing schools list will still be there but the important thing is -- we are not seeing that as a determining factor," said Kurt Hetager, with SCCPSS.

The bill now says the state would pull from the bottom five percent of schools in Georgia, instead of pulling from the failing school list.

WTOC: "But you've got all of these failing schools, isn't it safe to say that some of those schools will be in the bottom five percent?"

"It's quite possible," replied Hetager.

But it's still unclear how the state will calculate the bottom five percent, so there's still a possibly the 12 chronically failing schools in the district are at risk which is why the district says they will continue their rigorous efforts to improve.

"We continue to do pulse checks. We continue to look at personnel and we continue to look at the best use of resources at those schools," said Hetager.

Of course, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal still has the sign off on the bill, which is very likely because he was behind the initial efforts to create an opportunity school district.

The 12 Chatham County schools on the 2017 "chronically failing" list are:

  • Haven Elementary
  • Hodge Elementary
  • Otis Brock Elementary
  • DeRenne Middle
  • Mercer Middle
  • Myers Middle
  • Low Elementary
  • Shuman Elementary
  • East Broad K-8
  • Southwest Middle
  • West Chatham Middle
  • Savannah Classical Academy

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