Legislation to create independent school districts will not be approved this year, said Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody.
Taylor is the sponsor of HR 486, which would amend the Georgia Constitution to allow for the creation of new school districts in cities started since 2005 and cities adjacent to them. The bill would affect 16 cities, including Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Brookhaven, Taylor has said.
Taylor said he made the decision not to push for a vote before the full House of Representatives this year because he didn’t feel confident there was enough support for the 120 votes, or a 2/3 majority, necessary for the constitutional amendment to pass.
“This is not a simple-majority bill,” Taylor said. “It requires a supermajority. We had enough undecided to put it in doubt.”
Crossover Day, or the day that legislation must be approved by one chamber in order to have time to be considered by the other before the end of the legislative session, is approaching in less than a week. Taylor said the time constraints made the prospect of passing the bill uncertain.
“Changing the constitution is difficult, so you don’t do it precipitously,” Taylor said. “I never undersold how difficult this was going to be as a constitutional amendment.”
Shawn Keefe, a member of Georgians for Local Area School Systems, or GLASS, an organization lobbying for the bill, said supporters are disappointed that it won’t be approved this year.
“We’re upset but we understood going into this … that it was a steep hill to climb,” Keefe said.
Keefe said GLASS plans to continue working over the 10 months leading to the next legislative session. Members plan to talk to elected officials about the bill and learn about their concerns, he said.
“We’re optimistic we can make this bill stronger and educate people and get the support we need next year,” Keefe said.
Taylor, who said he would like to reintroduce the bill next year, said he’s worked on legislation over multiple years before.
“We had this process with Dunwoody when we did the city,” Taylor said, referring to the effort to incorporate the north DeKalb city that began in 2006 and wasn’t approved until 2008. “I’m patient and tenacious. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”