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Final week of session is upon us
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We returned to the Gold Dome last week to resume business at the state Capitol.

We had a full schedule, meeting every day to continually review legislation. We also convened on the House floor every day to continue voting on bills that have been passed through the committee process.

One of the most important bills passed this week was Senate Resolution 287, which would allow Georgians to vote on the creation of an "Opportunity School District" (OSD) in the state of Georgia.

SR 287, and its companion legislation, SB 133, were originally proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal as part of his comprehensive plan to boost student achievement and create more educational opportunities for Georgia students.

In November 2016, Georgia voters will have the opportunity to vote on this measure, which would allow the state to step in and intervene in chronically failing public schools.

If approved by Georgia voters, this district would assume all operational and managerial responsibility for failing public elementary and secondary schools.

The constitutional amendment would appear on the November 2016 general election ballot and would require support from a majority of voters.

This means that each of you will have a chance to decide if the Opportunity School District model should be practiced here in Georgia.

In addition to SR 287, SB 133 is the enabling legislation that will establish the Opportunity School District upon ratification of the constitutional amendment set forth by SR 287.

The Opportunity School District will provide oversight to schools that are defined as persistently failing, or as scoring below 60 on the College and Career Performance Index (CCRPI), for three consecutive years. The CCRPI is the Georgia Department of Education's official measurement of accountability.

The jurisdiction of the school district would fall under the control of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, and the Opportunity School District superintendent would be appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation.

The superintendent would be charged with developing operational procedures for the Opportunity School District and providing an annual report of progress and operations to the Georgia General Assembly.

In order to ensure areas needing improvement are addressed appropriately, the Opportunity School District would only select 20 affiliated in any single academic year, and the total number of selected schools would not exceed a total of 100 schools at any given time. Schools would remain a part of the Opportunity School District for at least five years, but not more than 10 years.

The process for school selection would include opportunities for parent and community feedback through public hearings, but final selection is at the sole discretion of the Opportunity School District superintendent.

Finally, before a school's oversight is transferred to the Opportunity School District, the superintendent must meet with the administration to discuss the school's evaluation and options for improvement.

Whether or not this is something that Georgia should do will be left up to the voters next year.

Another piece of legislation passed this week, Senate Bill 2, also opens doors of opportunity for Georgia students.

SB 2 passed unanimously and allows local boards of education to award high school diplomas to students who have completed ninth and tenth grade requirements, and are dually enrolled in qualified postsecondary educational programs.

In order to receive a high school degree under SB 2, the student must have completed state required ninth and tenth grade courses in the core subjects of English, math, science, and social studies, as well as one health and physical education class.

Additionally, test scores associated with the courses must meet the required scores by the postsecondary institution.

Lastly, the student must have also completed either an associate degree program, a technical college diploma program, or at least two technical college certificates of credit programs in one specific career pathway.

I'm proud that this legislation will allow students to be dually enrolled in high school and postsecondary programs and graduate at an accelerated pace with a set of skills that prepare them for the workforce.

Also, passed last week in the House was House Resolution 744.

This is a resolution that I authored, and it will create a House study committee to look at the use of drones.

This is an emerging technology and it has a tremendous amount of potential uses for our citizens.

There have been several bills introduced over the past couple of years that attempted to regulate drone usage that have not passed in either chamber. Each of these bills would only address one small area of drone usage.

It is my opinion that we would be better served studying this issue and bringing forward a policy that would govern this from a broader prospective. This would include when law enforcement could use them to collect evidence to a private individual using them for personal benefit.

It would also look at privacy issues relating to someone flying a drone over your property with a video camera. It is our intention to listen to all sides of this debate over the next several months and then possibly introduce legislation next session. Feel free to contact me, if you have any thoughts or concerns on this issue.

This week is the final week of the 2015 legislative session.

On Thursday we will adjourn "Sine Die," which is Latin for "without assigning a day for further meeting."

It will be a busy few days as we wrap up the 2015 legislative session.

We have had great turnouts at our weekly informational breakfasts over past few months. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, we will be meeting at Wagon Wheel in Dahlonega.

I encourage you to come join us to learn what occurred during the final week of session and to discuss your thoughts and concerns.

I am honored to serve as your Representative at the State Capitol.

I am always available to assist you and encourage you to contact me with questions or your opinions.

Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on my cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by email at kevin.tanner@house.ga.gov.

 

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