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Georgia Governor Pledges Continued Focus on Struggling Schools

What happens now that Georgia voters have resoundingly rejected Governor Nathan Deal's school takeover plan?

Deal is not giving up, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to the paper, the governor plans to continue to push for improvements in chronically low-performing schools, though he didn't say what steps he plans to take.

Deal's signature education proposal to create a statewide district that would take over low-performing schools was defeated by a vote of 60-40 on Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Georgia secretary of state's office. The ballot question would have changed the Georgia constitution to allow officials to create the district.

"It was not my failure," the paper quoted Deal as saying about the ballot question's defeat. "The failure of this passing is impacting on those 68,000 children who are still stuck in chronically failing schools. We're going to see what the local jurisdictions are willing to do about that. The ball is totally in their court right now."

The onus will now be on school districts, many of which adopted resolutions opposing the proposed statewide district, to show they can improve those chronically low-performing schools, Deal said.

The new district would have consisted of schools that received F grades for three years under the state's school accountability system.

A superintendent, appointed by the governor, would have been in charge of selecting the schools to include in the district. The law allowed the superintendent to pick up to 20 eligible schools annually.

The superintendent would have had the option to close schools, turn them into charters, or work with districts to improve them. 

A coalition of political and education groups—including teachers' unions—opposed the measure and spent about $5 million to defeat it, according to the AJC.

School districts and other opponents had railed against the possible loss of local control and tax dollars they said would have resulted from the creation of the new district. 

The governor and his allies had argued that the proposal, which was based on Tennessee's Achievement District and Louisiana's Recovery School District, was an effort to provide better school options for about 68,000 students. 

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