Here is the PAGE summary of school chief John Barge’s and DOE Deputy Superintendent of Finance Scott Austensen’s presentation Tuesday to the House and Senate joint appropriations hearings on the 2011 Supplemental Budget and the FY 2012 Budget. Barge’s comments are very similar to what he told the media Friday.
This summary is from Margaret Ciccarelli of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators:
Barge referenced two substantive priorities:
* Improving High School Math Curriculum: Barge said that Georgia’s math standards are strong, but that delivery methods are problematic. He wants to improve the curriculum without losing rigor.
* Examining Graduation Rules and the Single Diploma: the Superintendent indicated that he hopes to maintain a single rigorous diploma but expand multiple pathways to achieve it.
Scott Austenson, Deputy Superintendent of Finance at DOE, detailed specific education budget items for legislators. He said that former Governor Perdue asked the department to prepare three different budget contingency plans; Austenson indicated that the 4% reduction scenario will likely be applied to state education spending in the 2011 Supplemental Budget. Austenson mentioned that a larger cut to education funding may be necessary in the 2012 Budget.
Austenson highlighted some specifics in the 2011 Supplemental Budget, including a planned elimination of funding for Charter School Planning Grants and elimination of a contract funding the National Science Center. There was better news for beginning math and science teachers with five or fewer years of experience—the proposed version of the budget would award them a pay increase, making good on the legislature’s passage of HB 280 in 2009. For details, view the legislation.
Austenson described proposed items in the 2012 Budget and answered legislators’ questions. Highlights included a planned cut of 10% to the Governor’s Honors Program (which DOE hopes will be recouped by charitable giving), a 9.8% reduction to the state’s portion of school nutrition funding, and a 10% reduction to Georgia’s school nurse program. Austenson reiterated to legislators that the budget contained no funding for the restoration of 1st and 2nd grade CRCT administration.
When asked by a House member, Austenson described the $321 million Georgia received last September under the federal Education Jobs and Recovery Act. The federal funds were intended to prevent layoffs but arrived too late to prevent reductions in force in Georgia’s school systems. Local systems were advised to hold onto the money to prevent layoffs and furloughs during the 2011-2012 school year (when federal dollars expire, resulting in what many describe as a “funding cliff” in education). However, some systems throughout the state have already spent the federal funds, making personnel cuts like furloughs likely in those systems during 2011-2012.
Both the Supplemental 2011 Budget and the FY 2012 Budget will undergo many changes as they move through the legislature, and PAGE will continue to participate in and report on this process. A major item sure to provoke discussion is Governor Deal’s partial restoration of major austerity reductions to the Quality Basic Education funding formula.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog