Opportunity School Districts Bill Signed into Law

ATLANTA (April 22, 2015)  |  Sen. Butch Miller (R- Gainesville) joined Gov. Nathan Deal yesterday  as he signed SB 133 into law.  This measure, also known as Opportunity School Districts, will allow the state to help improve schools that continually struggle to meet educational goals and standards.  SR287, the companion resolution approved by the General Assembly last month, will be posed to voters as constitutional amendment in the next general election. This legislative package is part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s comprehensive plan to boost student achievement and create more educational opportunities for Georgia students.

“It was my distinct honor to carry the Opportunity School District measure and accompanying legislation to finally address our underperforming schools,” said Sen. Miller. “The foundation for educational success starts with individual schools, but when the foundation is crumbling, it is our responsibility to step in and provide the support needed for improvement. This method of reform has been successful in other states, and I am confident Georgia will see very similar results that improve accountability measures and student achievement.”

SB 133 is the enabling legislation that will establish the Opportunity School District upon ratification of the constitutional amendment set forth by SR 287. The jurisdiction of the school district will fall under the control of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, and the Opportunity School District superintendent would be appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation. The superintendent would be charged with developing operational procedures for the Opportunity School District and provide an annual report of progress and operations to the Georgia General Assembly.

SR 287proposes a constitutional amendment that would authorize the creation of a statewide Opportunity School District. If approved by Georgia voters, this district would assume all operational and managerial responsibility for failing public elementary and secondary schools. The constitutional amendment would appear on the November 2016 general election ballot.

The Opportunity School District will provide oversight to schools that are defined as persistently failing, or as scoring below 60 on the College and Career Performance Index (CCRPI), for three consecutive years. The CCRPI is the Georgia Department of Education’s official measurement of accountability.

In order to ensure areas needing improvement are addressed appropriately, the Opportunity School District would only select 20 affiliated in any single academic year. The total number of selected schools would not exceed a total of 100 schools at any given time. Schools would remain a part of the Opportunity School District for at least five years, but not more than 10 years. The process for school selection would include opportunities for parent and community feedback through public hearings, but final selection is at the sole discretion of the Opportunity School District superintendent. Before a school’s oversight is transferred to the Opportunity School District, the superintendent must meet with the administration to discuss the school’s evaluation and options for improvement.

SB 133 will go into effect on January, 1, 2017 only if the amendment to the Constitution is ratified by Georgia voters in November 2016.

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For Immediate Release:
April 22, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director