The party’s getting bigger.
This week Atlanta joined Gwinnett, Bulloch, Candler and DeKalb schools in mounting a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, a state-created entity that can overrule local boards of education and approve charter schools.
The commission’s blessing also brings local dollars to charter school coffers. Commission charter schools receive a matching share of local funds carved from the state allocations of the districts its students leave behind. (The “carving” is a financial end-run that essentially gives charters local money.)
Prior to the change in the law, the state could approve charters but could not send the schools any local tax dollars. The schools had to limp by on state and federal dollars. In general, local taxes cover about 45 percent of school costs so the charters were operating with far fewer dollars than the traditional public school down the road when they relied only on state and federal funds.
I think it is going to be a great court battle to watch.
I won’t predict a winner as courts elsewhere have gone both ways on this question.
But I think we can agree that no matter who wins, it isn’t going to be pretty. This is a divisive issue, even more so at a time when local systems are close to grabbing tin cans and asking passersby on the street for spare change.