Do you want to pay more local taxes for state-dictated and state-run charter schools? In HB 797, one of the state laws we're being asked to ratify with the charter school referendum on the ballot in November, in addition to the magic accounting rules that would grant charter schools much more money per student than public schools, it would create a state-wide charter school board that will take away all oversight from the local school board for any charter schools the state imposes on any locality. Yet it does not provide additional state funding for the extra money per student for charter schools, and it does explicitly address assessed valuation of local taxes.
The state takes all control over local chartered schools from the local school board in section 2A(7), last paragraph:
Yet the state provides no additional funding for the additional money per student for charter schools:
2A(5) No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the geographical area of the local school system.
(6) Funding for state chartered special schools pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to appropriations by the General Assembly and such schools shall be treated consistently with all other public schools in this state, pursuant to the respective statutory funding formulas and grants.
The bill also inserts each of those paragraphs again elsewhere, in case the point wasn't clear enough.
So where is the extra money to come from? Here's a hint:
20-2-2089 (a)(3)(A) 'Assessed valuation' is defined as 40 percent of the equalized adjusted property tax 307 digest reduced by the amount calculated pursuant to subsection (g) of Code Section 308 20-2-164.
What isn't appropriated by the General Assembly? Federal taxes, but there's language that seems to say federal money can't be allocated differently for charter schools. What's left? Local property taxes and local sales taxes. So the extra money per student to charter schools would have to come from local property tax millage and E-SPLOST.
The last sentence of section 2A(7) sums it up:
Where feasible, the state board shall treat a state chartered special school no less favorably than other public schools within the state with respect to the provision of funds for transportation and building programs.
Nowhere does it say public schools shall be treated no less favorably than charter schools about anything.
And we get to pay for the state's favorable treatment of state-dictated and state-controled charter schools through our local property and sales taxes. The charter school referendum on the November ballot isn't about improving education. It's about using centralized state control to funnel our local tax money to private companies running charter schools. We can vote that down in November.
While voting, it could be useful to remember who said Yea for HB 797 in the legislature. In the House, Ellis Black (R-174), Amy Carter (R-175), and Jason Shaw (R-176) voted for it. In the Senate, Tim Golden (R-8th) voted for it.