The folks at DOE may be breathing a little easier today, but that is probably not the case in the Regents offices. See the comments below on funding priorities made by Nathan Deal in an interview with the AJC’s Jim Galloway. (Read the full interview here):
In addition, the new governor’s “Hang in there” speech met with skepticism from posters here who work in school policy. (To RBN, we are looking at the budget and will have some thoughts soon.)
Here is a passage from Deal’s State of the State that raised a few eyebrows: “My budget will have a net increase of $30 million in formula funding and no reduction in Equalization Grants.Earlier this school year, the Federal Education Jobs Bill directed $322 million to Georgia schools. Local school systems should have been able to set aside local funds to be used in FY 2012.”
And here is why. From a poster:
Interesting that Deal expected local districts to set aside local funds for 2012 because of federal stimulus but the State did NOT. Also, given the magnitude of the state cumulative state cuts the last eight years, who had funds to set aside? How could local districts set aside funds when the state consistently underfunded the Quality Basic Education Act? The State is NOT following the law it passed to fulfill the adequacy clause in the State Constitution. The gap grows bigger each year, and a trend that will continue with Nathan Deal. This means that more and more of education funding comes from local property taxes and this will cause larger and large disparities in educating funding per student across the state.
I also suspect that a net increase of $30 million does not make up for student enrollment growth, especially when you factor out the federal funds.
And here is the relevant slice of Galloway’s interview with Deal:
Insider: Your biggest round of applause came when you announced an end to teacher furloughs. Was that a primary object of your budget proposal?
Deal: That was one of the top priorities, to deal with ending the teacher furloughs and allow funding for a complete school year. In one of the rehearsals, I said, “…and keep children in school for the entire year.” And they said, “Boy, you are going to have a riot on your hands.” I said, “Parents may like it, though.”
But that was a priority in our approach to the budget. Once again, it demonstrates we can’t continue to do just across-the-board cuts. That we have to be very selective.
Insider: Looking very quickly at your budget, it seems that many of the cuts in education were shifted to the state university system. Was that the trade-off for salvaging K-12 funding?
Deal: They’re going to take about a 6 percent reduction. I did not feel that they had the same priority as K through 12.
– From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog