The unofficial county results came in just before 10 p.m. Tuesday night, with 59.2 percent of voters, or 56,090, voting “yes” while 40.8 percent, or 38,646 voters out of 94,736, opposing the constitutional amendment in Cherokee County.
All 159 counties in Georgia had not reported their numbers as of press time Tuesday night, but 114 counties reporting closely mirrored Cherokee’s results with 57.5 percent in support and 42.5 percent against the measure.
The amendment changes Georgia’s Constitution to create a seven-member appointed commission that will consider petitions from charter schools that have been denied by their local school boards.
Kelly Marlow, board member-elect for the newly created District 1 seat on the Cherokee County Board of Education, said she spent the evening celebrating with charter school supporters at Donovan’s Irish Pub in Towne Lake.
Marlow’s platform included support for charter schools, as her two children attend Cherokee Charter Academy. Her opponent Kyla Cromer, PTA advocacy chair, opposed the amendment and has helped lead the local charge against it.
Marlow, who faced no Democratic opposition and will take her seat on the board Jan. 1, said she is “extremely encouraged” by the results and the response of the community to the charter amendment.
“This has been a long and hard fought battle to give parents more choice and rewarding to see Cherokee County has responded to needs of parents and children in community,” Marlow said.
Carol Taylor, a vocal opponent of the amendment and founding member of Cherokee PANTS, or People Advocating for the Need of Transparent Funding in Schools, said she isn’t surprised, but disheartened by the outcome.
Taylor, whose children attend Cherokee County School District schools, said one of her main issues with the amendment is the language of the ballot question.
“It’s ridiculously misleading,” Taylor said. “It sounds beautiful. It sounds like mom and apple pie. The language had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with what was in actually law.”
Taylor added she thinks there may be a challenge to the amendment following the vote because of the ballot language as well as the amendment’s increased state funding for students who attend charter schools over those who attend traditional public schools.
“How can you not challenge it? There’s a huge inequity there,” Taylor said.