Saturday, April 5, 2008

Open Letter from State Senator Ronnie Chance April 5, 2008

Dear fellow Fayette County citizen:

I want to thank you for the many phone calls and emails I have received from you expressing your concerns about maintaining our exemplary school system here in Fayette. The very fact that you are so involved is a large reason that our schools enjoy such great success.

Several days ago the State Senate passed SB 458 relating to vouchers for students in failing schools and systems. I feel it is important to clarify the vote and explain the often complex legislative process to dispel the confusion surrounding this issue.

The original bill, sponsored by Eric Johnson (R- Savannah), was designed to allow students from failing schools to enroll in a voucher program to attend private schools, other schools within the same system or systems outside of the current system at the discretion of the receiving system. The language originally read, “systems may accept students from non-accredited systems based on availability. The bill was amended in the Senate to read, “systems shall accept students based upon availability. The amendment passed by unanimous consent, meaning no vote or debate occurred prior to final passage by the Senate.

The state’s legislative counsel determined that the phrase ‘based upon availability’ still gave systems the ability to choose to accept or deny students, as is the case under current law which allows any system to choose to accept students from other systems. However, due to the ambiguity of the amendment language, the following week we amended the bill in the House back to the original version which included the ‘may accept’ phrase. We then stripped all references to public schools from the bill in the House Rules committee. Last night, the last day of the 2008 legislative session we were successful in killing the bill completely by preventing the House from calling it up for a vote prior to adjournment.

As you know, our legislative process is very deliberate to ensure that each chamber of the legislature and governor has adequate time for debate and review to hopefully pass quality legislation for Georgians. During every step of this process, I, along with State Representative Matt Ramsey, have been in daily contact with our county school superintendent and members of the local board of education to ensure the interests of Fayette students are being protected by everyone.

As a graduate of Fayette County High School and the father of two daughters who will be attending our public schools, I am undeniably committed to ensuring Fayette schools maintain the high level of standard we have all worked so hard to achieve.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you in your State Senate. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I welcome your comments and suggestions and hope you please feel free to contact me on my cell phone (678) 794 -0678.

I also want to thank all of you who were able to attend our town hall meeting on Saturday, March 29, and I encourage you to remain vigilant in following the legislative process and holding our elected officials at every level accountable. Thank you again.

Ronnie Chance

No comments: