New Plan For Struggling Schools Clears A Key Committee

FILE - In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks to reporters following a ceremony announcing a $300 million expansion of Google's data center operations in Lithia Springs, Ga. Deal's plan to overhaul the state's method for funding K-12 schools may face a new challenge, with lawmakers questioning proposals put forward by the governor's staff. Deal announced his Education Reform Commission in January and initially set an August deadline for recommending changes to the complicated formula used to determine school funding. At the request of lawmakers on a subcommittee charged with that task, Deal recently extended that deadline until December. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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Gov. Nathan Deal scored a Legislative win Thursday when the House Education Committee approved his new plan to turn around low-performing schools.

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The committee seemed generally pleased with the bill, which creates a chief turnaround officer and turnaround coaches to help schools improve. This bill strikes a more collaborative tone than Deal’s original plan, which would’ve let the state take over struggling schools.

Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, is the bill’s chief sponsor. He said he sought input from various sources while putting the legislation together.

“If it’s going to work, it’s going to require everyone working together,” Tanner said after the vote. “There’s such a mistrust between local schools and the state, and we’ve got to bridge that gap.”

Before the vote, Committee Chair Brooks Coleman said the bill nudges the state to assert some of the authority it already has.

“They [the state] could go in right now, but I’m just going to say it: they’re not doing it,” Coleman said. “So, we’re going to see that it’s done. We’re trying to go within existing law and get things done that aren’t being done.”

Some strategies to help schools are outlined in the legislation, such as screening children for reading proficiency and checking their physical health. However, there is one issue that hasn’t been completely resolved: money. There are three potential funding sources identified, but the details of each still have to be hammered out.

Nonetheless, the committee unanimously passed the measure. The full House is expected to cast a vote next week.