Gov. Deal set to sign school turnaround bill

Gov. Deal set to sign school turnaround bill.

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is signing several bills this week, including the controversial school turnaround bill aiming to improve low-performing schools.

The bill has changed a lot; in fact, they are not even using the language "chronically failing schools" instead of using the terminology "low-performing".

State lawmakers passed House Bill 338 when Georgia voters said "no" to Amendment 1 in November which would have created an opportunity school district. The bill that passed included two major changes: allowing school systems to maintain local control for at least three years before a possible takeover and the state would pull from the bottom five percent of schools in Georgia, instead of pulling from the failing school list.

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.

There are 12 schools in Savannah-Chatham County that are considered chronically failing:

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

House Bill 338 will allow the state to create a Chief Turnaround Officer to oversee all failing schools.

Schools that do not show improvement within two years could be converted into charter schools. They could also be turned over to another district or the state could replace key management staff, like the principal.

Savannah-Chatham County school officials say our school district has nothing to worry about.

"I think the school district will be fine. The teachers and faculty are very capable. The leadership is very capable," said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Lockamy.

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