At 12:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, with 151 of 159 counties reporting, the amendment passed statewide with 2,082,573 votes (58%), and 1,490,142 votes (42%) opposed it. In Cobb, it passed with 190,168 votes (64%) and 106,964 votes (36%) opposed it.
Passage of the resolution will allow the state to create a seven-member committee that has the authority to approve start-up charter school petitions that local school boards rejected.
For Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell), who co-sponsored the resolution, this was a “great victory” for Georgia’s young people.
“Kids who attend state-authorized charters right now, they got the best civics lesson ever,” she said. “They saw a civics lesson up close and personal and more importantly, they know now that they will have support in their schools. They can focus on being great students.”
She spent Tuesday night at a watch party at Ivy Preparatory Academy in Gwinnett County, which one was of about 20 schools approved by the State Charter School Commission before it was ruled unconstitutional in 2010 by the Georgia Supreme Court.
As far as supporters of the amendment, Morgan said she’s grateful to them for the “tenacity, passion and commitment” they have for children in doing “what’s best for kids.”
Rep. Ed. Setzler (R-Acworth) also supported passage of the amendment.
“We did both practically and principally well tonight as a state,” said Setzler, who spent the election night at home with his family. “Siding with parent opportunities is always right.”
Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the “voters have spoken” and that while results may not have swung in the direction he liked, he respects the Democratic process.
“Obviously, we have to honor the respect of a change in the Constitution. They have spoken, so now we will deal with the issues related to that,” he said.
Hinojosa spent Election Night at home watching TV while tracking results on his computer.
During the campaign, many opposing the amendment have said its passage would be a financial burden on the public school districts.
“It’ll be a deferred impact on us, but we’ll have to figure out how it goes,” he said.
The efforts of those supporting the opposition won’t go unrecognized though.
“I’m very proud of them. We tried to point out that the wording on the ballot was innocuous and make sure voters were informed,” he said. “There was great effort put out by those who opposed it.”
Karen Hallacy, an east Cobb parent and member of the 9th District Parent-Teacher Association, which signed a resolution opposing the amendment, made a $250 contribution to Vote Smart, which opposed the resolution.
“I hope that the attention paid to this amendment by all sides will translate in the future to more attention being paid to the education of all 1.67 million students that are educated in Georgia,” she said. “All parties — educators, parents, legislators, education advocates — need to work together to ensure every child, whether in a traditional school or a charter school, is adequately served. I think we need more voices at the table working together to come up with a variety of solutions that can work to meet the different needs of the children educated in public education.”
She spent Election Day with the Walton High School band getting ready to head to a competition in Indianapolis this morning.
“I did put out a few more “Vote No” signs and talked to some friends along the way, but I had to turn my attention to my next responsibility,” she said.
Both Hinojosa and Hallacy made financial contributions to Vote Smart. He donated $500 and she $250.
According to Vote Smart’s campaign finance report from the end of October, $123,243 in contributions were made. The organization supporting passage of the amendment, Families for Better Schools, raised $1.8 million, a majority of which was from out-of-state donors.
House Bill 797, which was approved last spring by both the Senate and House and went into effect July 1, outlines the details of the amendment.
It states that the seven members of the State Charter School Commission will be appointed by the governor, president of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
These appointments must be made no later than February 2013. Each member will serve two-year terms; however, three members will initially serve one-year terms to stagger appointments.
They will not be compensated but will receive per diem. Additionally, each member should have at least a bachelor’s degree and the group should be diverse. Their first meeting will be no later than March 1, 2013.