Bill to redistrict school board posts submitted
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
February 17, 2012 12:04 AM | 5755 views | 17 17 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The much anticipated legislation to redraw the Cherokee County Board of Education posts was dropped in the hopper Wednesday by local state representatives and appears to effectively remove the county’s elected school board chair and vice chair from their positions by January 2013.

Under the provisions of House Bill 978, Cherokee County voters will vote by post for six school board members and choose a chair elected county-wide.

At present, the school board has seven representatives elected county-wide and members elect their own chair and vice chair.

School Board Chair Mike Chapman and Vice Chair Janet Read appear to be drawn out of their posts and into posts already held by seated school board members by the new legislation, according to initial analysis of the bill by school officials.

Legislators would not return phone calls by the Cherokee Tribune to comment on the legislation.

Chapman now appears to be in Post 6, held by Robert Wofford or possibly in the new Post 2, and Read lives in the Rose Creek precinct, which is in Post 4, held by Rob Usher, under the provisions of the legislation. Post 4 is in the Woodstock area, including parts of Towne Lake. Post 6 includes portions of R.T. Jones precinct, Canton, Sutallee and north Cherokee County.

No maps showing the new districts were available for review by school officials on Thursday, but the legislation did include precinct information and census information for each new post.

School Board Attorney Tom Roach said he requested maps showing the new districts from the Office of Reapportionment, but he did not receive them.

Those incumbent school board members whose posts are not up for re-election in 2012 will retain their seats, according to the legislation. Those include Post 3 School Board Member Michael Geist, Post 5 School Board Member Rick Steiner, Usher and Wofford.

Post 7 School Board Member Kim Cochran, who is up for re-election in 2012, was redistricted into newly created Post 2, which includes Free Home and east Cherokee County, and appears to be the only current school board member to reside in that post.

The new Post 1, which covers Bridgemill, Holly Springs, and Toonigh, does not have a seated school board residing in the district, school officials say.

Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock), Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming) and Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) all signed off on the legislation which is now in the House Rules Committee.

Roach said Thursday there is no local precedent for school board members ever being drawn out of their posts.

“I have not had a chance to speak to the board. I assume that will be at the next meeting,” Roach said. “To a great extent, we are in the dark on this.”

Read said she was not surprised, but disappointed by the decision and that it was absolutely in response to her vote to strike down Cherokee Charter Academy’s petition for approval as a district school.

“They’ve said all along that they would draw me out,” Read said. “It’s not a newsflash to me.”

Chapman said he was also not surprised by the legislators’ proposal. He said though he doesn’t know when legislators will vote on the bill, they have some time before the vote and suggests they change their decision.

“They do have a chance to reconsider their actions and change what they are doing,” Chapman said. “I would strongly urge them to consider doing so.”

Read said after talking to people in the community, there still seemed to be “a lot of confusion,” especially regarding the Blue Ribbon Committee.

“I don’t think they had a consensus,” she said, adding that about four of those on the panel were part of the Republican Party leadership who asked her to renounce her party affiliation following her vote against Cherokee Charter Academy.

Chapman said he also thought his vote against the charter school was part of the equation.

Of all factors considered, including school system maps, town hall meetings, teachers-only meetings and the Blue Ribbon Committee, Read said she didn’t know what made legislators decide on this new map.

“I think I’ve done an outstanding job as a school board member,” Read said. “If people did not like my stance, why not let voters answer at the ballot box instead of taking the decision out of their hands?”

Read said she is considering her next move. She said she may run for state House District 20 against incumbent Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) or for Georgia Senate District 21 against incumbent Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock). She is also considering running for the newly created position of countywide chair.

“I’m going to look at all of my options,” Read said. “I think with my experience, I would definitely be an asset for not only the people in my post, but throughout the state.”

Chapman said he is not yet ready to announce his political plans.

The school board voted in August to request that the Legislature adopt a redistricting plan that would leave in place a plan that elected seven posts countywide with no elected chair.

Since that time, the Legislators appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee to get feedback on how school board members are elected. The committee recommended six board members elected within their respective posts and a chairman elected at large.

Comments
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SchoolChoiceAdvocate
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February 19, 2012
It's really very simple - the arrogance and cronyism is with Read and Chapman, along with Dr. P, not the legislators. NEWSFLASH - last time I checked, the school board is supposed to be a representative board of THE PEOPLE, not a puppet board run by the Superintendant, which is unfortunately what has occured for the last two decades. If Janet Read and Mike Chapman have done a good job representing the people and the best interests of Cherokee County children and citizens, then no matter what Post they would fall under, they would be re-elected. However, the reality is, they know they have not done a good job and have not been elected by the people but rather by the Special Interest Groups and CCSD Employees, all made possible by the old way of doing elections (where CCSD employees could vote for all candidates countywide) and the Dr. P political machine could be preserved. However, the "machine politics" are coming to an end, albeit with Read, Chapman, and Dr. P kicking and screaming. The demographics of Cherokee County have changed to where a majority of the county is non-native, more affluent and value education more dearly and want to see progressity and options beyond what Dr. P and his cronies have been able and willing to provide. Our legislators have recognized and it is the people of Cherokee County (like me) who have spoken directly to the legislators strongly recommending the system be changed for the right reasons. The old election model was an “incumbent protection plan”. Beating the Dr. P crony incumbents has been difficult because to challenge an incumbent, candidates have had to build (from scratch) an organization that could defeat a county wide campaign. The Dr. P crony incumbents like Read and Chapman have always been able to count on the special interest groups to work for them - the vast numbers of mindless PTA members and terrified district employees that live in every corner of the county. If you think I am crazy, just think back to the charter school vote at Cherokee H.S. Of the 800 people who were there 70% were turned out by “the system” to protect “the system”. We have made headway by having three solid School Board members who are not puppets and who are truly focused on representing the children and citizens of CC - Geist, Usher and Cochran. With a new policy on elections, we now hope to fully move the School Board to a professional board fully representative of the people and free from the totalitarian puppet state it has been held in by Dr. P for the last decade. Amen to our truly conservative legislators who have had the guts to stand up to the elitist left wing of Cherokee County - Dr. P and the RINO Four Members of the School Board - thank you !!!

call me chuck
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February 21, 2012
This reminds me-- 30% of the 800 people there for the critically important charter school vote were in support of the school, so by your own estimate, 240? This includes people flown in from out of state to speak, bussed in from the charter associations, and of course the children they shove in front of any media camera they can find. In a county of 200,000 , that's the best this "choice" movement can do? And then, they couldn't even fill the school, despite bragging to the media about "2,700 families" and waiting lists a mile long? Someone got snowed. The worst thing that the charter school could have happen right now is the opening of more charter schools that would appeal to the small pool of choicers out there. Then the "money would follow the child" right out their front door. Hey, maybe Imagine could submit another petition, they have such a great track record. And, Advocate, you are wrong about the current system preserving incumbents. Just ask Debbie Radcliff or Garry Puckett. The system works, you just don't like the results when your friends don't win. It's democracy, get over it.
stockgal
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February 18, 2012
It is time for Reed and Chapman to move on. Cherokee County needs to improve education and allow for educational choice! Good job Cherokee County!
CCA Supporter
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February 18, 2012
I'm glad they're re-districting. It's time to shake up the CCSD Board. It's time to send Dr. P on his way. It's also time for Janet Read and Mike Chapman to ride off into the sunset - maybe they can move to whatever school district P lands in next?

And by the way, Chip Rogers is a visionary - he cares about what happens to our kids, the future of Georgia. No company is going to relocate here knowing that we are number 47 in the nation in education!
Rod Johnson
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February 17, 2012
This is excellent news. Time to boot out as many of the current cronies that have been parked at the taxpayer trough for too damn long. How anyone can be satisfied with the current dismal state of public education in any county shows the depths to which people have been fooled by a bunch of do-nothing board members.

Steiner, whose own kids attend private school, should be next. What an awful representative for a PUBLIC School board - a guy who thinks so little of the very school system he's representing that he sends his kids to private school!
Fact Check
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February 21, 2012
Steiner's kids go to CCSD schools! Maybe you should read the Tribune's sports section more often... one of his kids is an EHS wrestling star.
anonymous
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February 17, 2012
What would motivate our state representative to act against the will of the people and the will of our local governments and why would they pull such a drastic stunt right before their re-election? Do they actually think that our memories will be erased of their dictatorship actions by July?

The payoff must be huge to take the chance of ending their profitable political careers over this action. Will we ever know the truth?

perspicacious
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February 17, 2012
Ignorance is bliss; the status quo is running scared. And of course they will seek other public service seats because doing anything else would be work.

Education is power. Give that to the children.

Public schools

Public schools get their financing from local, state, and federal government funds. In most cases, they must admit all students who live within the borders of their district. Charter schools and magnet schools are two relatively new kinds of public schools.

Charter schools began appearing in the early 90s. They are autonomous, "alternative" public schools started by parents, teachers, community organizations, and for-profit companies. These schools receive "some tax dollars" but the sponsoring group must also come up with private funding. Charter schools must adhere to the basic curricular requirements of the state but are free from many of the regulations that apply to conventional schools and the day-to-day scrutiny of school boards and government authorities. Yet can be shut down for not performing to standards unlike public school counter parts.

( CCA is currently funded by the state of Georgia using federal bridge money. CCA is not receiving in money allocated to CCSD Schools for their operation this time. )

CCSD is receiving all state and federal money allocated for their schools based on their populations and property taxes revenues. Property taxes revenues have fallen due tho the housing market, that is not the fault of CCA.

CCA provided much needed employment in the county.

IF you have a rebuttal talk numbers, not just an I Win button, you most certainly are not Charlie Sheen.

Fact Check
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February 21, 2012
CCA is funded with $3.1 million in State tax dollars for educational funding that otherwise would have been sent to CCSD schools -- CCSD schools this year received $26.6 million less in State tax dollars than the State is mandated to send for education funding according to the Georgia QBE law.

The Governor also pledged $10 million this year in additional State tax dollars to provide CCA and other State-approved charter schools with the equivalency of the local tax dollars they would have received if they had been approved by their local schools boards -- again decreasing the amount of State funds available to CCSD and other public school systems to meet the State-mandated QBE funding levels for education, which have been reduced by $1 billion so far.

CCA also has received federal Title I money from the State -- in fact, this was sent to CCA prior to CCA showing evidence of the number of students qualifying for this funding -- and federal charter start-up grant money.
Fed Up
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February 17, 2012
It is disgusting how these politicians use their position to exact their petty revenge on those who do not agree with them. Anyone who thinks they have your best interest in mind better wake up and get your facts straight. Cherokee county will be better off when they are no longer in office egregiously lining their pockets as well as foisting their ridiculous legislation on us.
anonymous
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February 17, 2012
So let me get this straight. The legislators from Cherokee County took the recommendations from a committee comprised of citizens and then they use those recommendations and now they are evil?

Some of you need to use reason and logic before you post. How many of you even understand the redistricting process?Unfortunately for Read and Chapman they live in the fastest growing part of the county so unless you are for gerrymandering they couldn't haven't kept their post.

There were 7 school members before this map and there are 7 members now so Read and Chapman can both still run but hey, don't let the facts get in the way of your complaints.
Fact Check
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February 21, 2012
The committee was stacked by the legislators to result in the outcome they wanted. Anyone who follows local politics knows this.

The redistricting process is supposed to be based on basic principles of reapportionment, which the legislators have not followed. The map shows clear signs of gerrymandering to draw incumbents into the same posts -- a major "no-no" according to those principles -- such as its clear deviation from using roadways like 575 and 92 as boundaries, its splitting of precincts and uneven populations in the new posts.

Read and Chapman in the proposed maps both have been drawn into posts with school board members who are not up for re-election this year, so neither Read or Chapman can run for their posts under the proposed maps. Under the proposed new governance model, they both could run for the countywide chair, but only one could win.
anonymous
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February 17, 2012
Chip Rogers = Benito Mussolini

Both fascists
I Agree
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February 17, 2012
You said it anonymous!!! There is no better comparison!!
James J
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February 17, 2012
WOW!! I cannot believe the depths of cronyism the legislature will stoop to in order to bend the rules in their favor!! It is time that we stand up for what is best for ALL of Cherokee and rid ourselves of Dictator Chip, Byrd, Jergusen, and Hill. School Board members Reed and Chapman have 100% of my support!
No Surprise
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February 17, 2012
State Legislators seeking revenge for Chapman and Reed opposing the sham charter school. Maybe the citizens of Cherokee should provide these legislators with the ultimate redistricting by voting them out of office.

If Chapman & Reed are forced to oppose these newbee board members I predict there will be massive financial support for their campaigns from outside those two post that will overwhelm their competitors.

If this passes, citizens of Cherokee should prepare themselves for a fiefdom mentality by board members. No longer will decision be made for the good of CCSD as a whole. You will hear them refer to MY post, MY schools, MY principals, MY teachers, MY students... If you don't believe me just check out the disfunctional group sitting on the board of Cobb County Schools. CCSD will not be the same and the change will not be for the better of any but these petty little politicians.

The Republican Party of Cherokee County should be embarrassed for proping up these clowms and denouncing patriots like Chapman & Reed.

And don't let King Chip escape here either, someone must emerge to oppose him next time.
Robert30102
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February 17, 2012
Well, if this legislation passes maybe Mike and Janet will run against these jerks. You have my support!!!
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