Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced on Thursday that state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, will lead a study committee looking into nonpartisan school boards, building off legislation Dixon tried to push through this month targeting the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

Dixon pulled his bill targeting Gwinnett — Senate Bill 5 EX — for conversion to nonpartisan elections earlier this week. He announced at the time, however, that he would be shifting to instead look at partisan school boards across Georgia.

The study committee announced on Thursday will focus on that topic.

“Legislative proposals concerning education must be crafted in a delicate manner while encompassing input from leaders at all levels of government,” Duncan said. “With over 60% of Georgia’s school boards already operating as nonpartisan, and direct calls to remove partisan conflict from local education decisions, I look forward to seeing the outcome this committee produces through a transparent and collaborative process.”

The idea behind creating a study committee on nonpartisan school boards is to look at what the appetite will be for converting all school boards in Georgia that have partisan elections in November to a format where their members are elected in nonpartisan elections in the spring.

The study committee’s work will likely generate a lot of interest and scrutiny after Dixon’s bill targeting the Gwinnett school generated a lot of buzz, including a large amount of controversy over the way the bill was written and introduced in the state Senate.

Dixon did not consult Gwinnett County Public Schools officials, the county’s school board or the Democrats who make up the majority of the Gwinnett legislative delegation before he filed SB 5 EX. Dixon similarly did not consult his Democratic colleagues in the delegation, or officials in the county government, on another bill designed to expand the county commission.

In addition to Dixon, the committee’s membership will include Sens. Jason Anavitarte, R – Dallas, Chuck Payne, R – Dalton, and Lester Jackson, D – Savannah. That means the committee will be made up of three Republicans and one Democrat.

Duncan’s office said the study committee will meet periodically between now and the beginning of the 2022 Legislative Session, which will get underway in January, to hear from education stakeholders and other members of the general public about the issue of making school board elections nonpartisan.

Dixon previously told the Daily Post that he planned to hold at least two hearings on the matter, including one at the state Capitol and another in Gwinnett County.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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