September 21, 2016 3:27 PM
The state’s largest school district will remain neutral on the Opportunity School District proposal in constitutional Amendment 1 that voters will decide on in November. Giving his annual “State of the Schools” address to an audience of business and community leaders in Gwinnett County on Wednesday, Wilbanks said, “I’m not here to advocate for or against Amendment One, but I do urge you to learn all you can about it before casting your vote.”
If approved, the Opportunity School District would be able to intervene to assist chronically failing schools for a period of between five and ten years. No more than 20 schools could be accepted each year, and no more than 100 schools could be in the district any any one time. At present, only 127 of the state’s schools would be eligible for the district. While no Gwinnett schools would be eligible for the Opportunity School District, Gwinnett schools are working hard to ensure that none of its 139 schools would qualify. “It’s like your vehicle,” Wilbanks pointed out. “It’s easier to keep your vehicle out of the ditch than it is to get it out of the ditch.”
The school board’s neutrality is a change from the position they took on Governor Deal’s last big educational constitution amendment, which allowed for state sponsored charter schools. Four years ago, the Gwinnett Chamber opposed the amendment. After pressure from the governor, the Chamber’s position switched to neutral.