Cherokee County Board of Education Chairman Mike Chapman is calling on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto House Bill 978, which would and draw out Chapman and vice chair Janet Read from their districts.
Despite and a , the , which has become a flashpoint in the fight for local control of the Cherokee school board.
According to the website of the Georgia General Assembly, the final vote was 47-0 for House Bill 978.
The bill awaits Deal's signature. If he signs it into law, the school board chair will be elected county-wide and school board members will be elected from the posts where they live.
"This is our last hope for avoiding a change in school board governance structure that may ultimately have an extremely negative impact on the overall quality of the school system and the education delivered to its nearly 40,000 students," Chapman said in a statement. "It’s disappointing that the past 14 years of successful governance by the School Board may possibly be destroyed due to a vendetta led by the Cherokee County Legislative Delegation."
Below is the full text of Chapman's letter to Deal.
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The Honorable Governor Nathan Deal,
This is to request that you veto House Bill 978, as this bill does not reflect the will of the people who will be impacted by it.
House Bill 978 is an effort by Cherokee County’s legislators to restructure the governance model of the School Board and reapportion its posts for political reasons. There is clear evidence of this, as well as of overwhelming community support to keep the governance model as is, and to use basic principles of reappointment to draw post lines…including the avoidance of redrawing two incumbents into the same post.
This bill threatens the past decade of success experienced by the Cherokee County School District, which has been achieved largely in part as a result of the current governance model, which prevented School Board members from putting their own post’s interests above those of the entire county. House Bill 978 also potentially jeopardizes our School District’s accreditation, which currently is at the highest level attainable by a school system, and is crucial for our students in their pursuit of higher education.
In addition to vetoing the bill, I respectfully ask you to urge the Cherokee County Delegation to adopt the map sent to them by the School Board. This map follows the basic principles of reappointment, offers a more even population split, keeps communities of interest such as neighborhoods and voting precincts intact, more closely parallels school attendance zones and doesn’t draw incumbents into the same post.
While I am currently chairman of the School Board, which is the fourth time I have been elected by my peers to a one-year term in this role during my decade on the School Board, I am making this request as an individual Board member. However, I will note that the School Board, at a public meeting last fall, unanimously adopted a Legislative Program that was presented to the Delegation. The first priority in that program was to maintain the current governance model.
Chairman, Cherokee County Board of Education