Budget analysis: A billion dollar hole in state education funding next year. Start digging.

The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute just issued a bleak report on school funding prospects for next year, noting that the governor’s proposed budget for K-12 education has a $1 billion hole in it. (It is an improvement over last year when the hole was $1.1 billion.)

What’s often confusing to readers — and gives cover to lawmakers — is that school funding will increase by $205 million. But the institute’s Claire Suggs, senior education policy analyst, notes that more than 60 percent of those additional dollars are dedicated to funding enrollment growth and normal salary adjustments for teachers.

She says, “These dollars are critical to ensuring that the state’s investment in its students does not slip much further.”

Suggs warns: “Georgia’s education funding has deteriorated for years. If lawmakers accept the 2014 budget proposal, state funding through QBE, QBE equalization, and other programs will be well below the 2009 level.”

Here is an excerpt of the report. Please read the full report before commenting:

Georgia continues to shortchange its K-12 students. The Quality Basic Education program, the primary mechanism for distributing state money to local school districts, is underfunded by $1 billion in the governor’s budget for the 2014 fiscal year. While the proposed budget would increase total funding over last year, the extra money primarily covers the added cost of more school children and a salary adjustment for teachers’ training and experience. For districts and schools across the state there will be little relief from larger class sizes, shorter school calendars and teacher furlough days.

The outlook is better for pre-kindergarten education. The governor plans to raise funding for Pre-K to increase the number of school days from 170 to 180. Still, funding for Pre-K would remain below 2009 levels.

Georgia has an ambitious goal of increasing the number of students who complete a postsecondary certificate or degree program by 250,000 by the year 2020. This will require many more students who finish high school and many more fully prepared for postsecondary study when they leave the school system. The Georgia Department of Education is moving ahead with new strategies that place higher expectations on teachers and students to meet this goal.

Yet the state consistently underfunds its schools and is cutting programs in areas like science and technology that encourage students to go into those high-demand fields. Georgia cannot build the workforce it needs to spur economic growth and create more jobs if it does not invest adequate resources in its students.

The governor’s amended budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which ends June 30th, increases funding for K-12 by $154 million, mostly to account for enrollment growth. Most other education programs will absorb significant cuts during the remainder of the current fiscal year, including

• Agricultural education ($229,515)
• Nutrition ($1,647,230)
• Regional Education Service Agencies ($205,995)
• School Improvement ($93,579)
• Technology/Career Education ($421,775)

Though QBE remains significantly underfunded, the governor’s budget year that begins July 1, 2013, does take a small step forward. In it the governor calls for full funding of the QBE equalization program, which provides funds to districts whose low tax digest limits how much local money can be raised through local property taxes. His budget also adopts several of the recommendations of the State Education Finance Study Commission: increased funding for professional development; school nurses and instructional technology.

Much of this funding is not new, however. It is redirected from other areas. He also proposes increased funding to enhance the state’s technology infrastructure, a step to give teachers, principals, district staff and parents the information they need to help students learn more. In most of cases, however, he provides less funding than the commission recommends.

Next year’s proposed budget also adds $12.9 million to the Pre-K education. This will bring the Pre-K school year back to 180 days after having been reduced in previous years due to budget cuts. That also would restore teachers’ salaries, which have been reduced as a result of fewer school days.

In addition, the governor’s budget does not reflect the growing expectations of students and educators, most notably with the implementation of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, new tests tied to the Common Core and new evaluation systems for teachers. Implementing these effectively will require additional support and resources for student and educators.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

73 comments Add your comment

Comprehension 101

February 6th, 2013
5:07 am

We are tired of furloughs for teachers. Can’t school systems find other ways to budget rather than on the backs of educators?

bootney farnsworth

February 6th, 2013
5:42 am

obviously, there is a structural flaw in the methodology of how the state funds us. perhaps it has something to do with the massive bloat of useless administrators choking the system

Pb

February 6th, 2013
6:03 am

Comprehension 101 – here is your school finance lesson for the day:

If 90% of a school system budget is salaries and benefits, school systems have to either cut jobs or furlough personnel in order to make up for the millions of dollars they have lost in state and property tax revenues. There is not much else left in the budget unless you want to turn off the utilities and push the school buses down the road.

Georgia Dad

February 6th, 2013
6:18 am

Our poor educational system is why the rest of the country still think of Southerners as ignorant. Dukes of Hazard and Hee Haw are what they imagine us to be. Good thing we got the best football players.

Georgia Dad

February 6th, 2013
6:21 am

Georgia=Honey Boo Boo

mountain man

February 6th, 2013
6:32 am

“If 90% of a school system budget is salaries and benefits, school systems have to either cut jobs or furlough personnel in order to make up for the millions of dollars they have lost in state and property tax revenues.”

Pb – that is true, BUT – cuts in personnel doesn’t have to be just TEACHERS. When was the last time the principals and vice-principals and co-vice principals and all those ADMINISTRATORS had furlough days and salary reductions?

Also, if property values have gone down, there is an obvious solution – raise the millage rate. Unless your county is already at the State constitutional limit. Even our Republican county has made it clear to us taxpayers that they need X amount of money to run the schools, if they reduce the property valuation, they will just have to raise the millage rate.

mountain man

February 6th, 2013
6:34 am

The other thing that could be considered here is that we spend FOUR times what we spent in 1960 per student (ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION) and we can’t even put them in a real school building. Why don’t we compare what we spent our money on then and now and see what areas are ripe for cutting.

MiltonMan

February 6th, 2013
6:42 am

Yes, let’s keep QBE fully funded so that we may continue to take from rich school districts and send money to those “poor” school dictricts aka ‘Robin Hood”

Yes, let’s keep a bloated school system in place with every school having a principal, an assistance principal and staff who basically do nothing and oppose every option that includes on-line learning.

Yes, let’s keep a defined pensions plan and a retirement plan available for all those in education while in the private sector the pension plans are history.

Yes, let’s keep hiring those college grads whith low GPAs & non-brainer majors and put them in the classroom teaching your children.

Yes, in the end let’s cry and complain that our budget is not enough.

HS Math Teacher

February 6th, 2013
6:50 am

It’s tempting to think of how much all these non-academic teachers, coaches, and administrators getting these Argosy, NOVA, or Walden U. six-year degrees have costed us. It’s also amazing how many folks I run into nowadays are Dr. So-and-so.

Eddie Hall

February 6th, 2013
6:56 am

QBE has never been fully funded. The law should be scrapped. The average person does not know or realize the unfunded mandates our state and federal legislatures impose on the local systems. That is where the fat can be cut, but never will.

catlady

February 6th, 2013
7:01 am

Well, I know that although I am taking on more and more responsibility, and being”held accountable” for things I have no authority over, my 2 highest consecutive years’ pay will be 2006-7, 2007-8. I also know that I have sustained about $15,000 in salary loss. And I note that those losses will have an impact on my retirement pay for the rest of my life.

BTW, how much has the salary of our legislators and governor gone down during this time? How many of their office staffs have dwindled? How much less are they getting for their offices? How much less per diem and travel have they requested (and not had to show receipts for)? Ms. Downey, can one of your researchers find out about this?

BTW, while we “don’t have the money.” how many new jobs have friends and family been appointed to?

Pb

February 6th, 2013
7:04 am

In most all school systems that furlough, everyone has been furloughed from the Superintendent down to the cafeteria workers.

Fed Up

February 6th, 2013
7:10 am

Why continue to dig? Thats a dumb idea..

You start cutting the educrats

Mountain Man

February 6th, 2013
7:14 am

“In most all school systems that furlough, everyone has been furloughed from the Superintendent down to the cafeteria workers.”

How many furlough days did Cheryl Atkinson take last year? How much was her salary reduced for those furlough days?

Future Gov

February 6th, 2013
7:28 am

I am insulted by “Milton Man’s” comments….Low GPAs! I graduated from college with a 4.0 (summa cum laude). Do you know what that is Milton Man? I didn’t take one dime from the governement to finance my education either. I worked and went to school for 8 YEARS so I could becoma a teacher and now this is the thanks I get….no salary increase for the last 5 years….furlough days….larger classes….????? Tell me “Milton Man” who helped you get your diploma or do you even have one?

CTAE Supporter

February 6th, 2013
7:31 am

Cutting funding for Agricultural Education and Technology/Career Education in the same year that Georgia is preparing to launch career pathways. How could this be? HB186 passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Deal establishes career pathways for all students and yet we are cutting the very funding that supports CTAE programs.

Maude

February 6th, 2013
7:40 am

“Miton Man” when is the last time you have spent a day in a clssroom?? How dare you insult teachers by implying that all teachers had Low GPA’s!! I am to mad for anymore words.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

February 6th, 2013
7:41 am

Performance Assessments are not tests as traditionally understood. That is the whole point of the Common Core. Changing how the results of what goes on in the classroom is measured. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/using-the-common-cores-performance-assessments-to-create-a-new-kind-of-person/

The other point of the Common Core is to change the behavior of the teacher in the classroom away from an emphasis on content to more of a sociocultural engagement with the students. Discourse. The teacher eval makes sure the teacher is being complaint with this radically different vision.

And the Hewlett Foundation has confirmed I am right on those two essential points. They just did not know I read their reports.

dc

February 6th, 2013
7:49 am

spending on public education has doubled per student, after inflation, in the last 30ish years, and somehow we have a funding gap. And the eduacracy can’t understand why taxpayers aren’t buying their “the sky is falling and you need to pay more in taxes” crap anymore. Seriously?

South Georgia Retiree

February 6th, 2013
7:50 am

Another year of the “shell game” that the Governor and Legislature play in every session. You can’t make up the crazy stuff they do in the capitol, telling the public they are increasing education funding when in reality they are still under funding it severely. Let’s just say if the Governor was moved to recommend funding QBE fully as much as he was moved to create a job for Chip Rogers at Georgia Public Broadcasting and pay him $150,000 of tax money, then public education would have enough money to start digging out of the deep 10-year hole. I’ve asked our legislative delegation to step up and help public education several times, but I get no response—they know they are merely part of the shell game and continue to support the Governor’s bleak education funding recommendations. As for suddenly adding 10 days to Pre-K, in our rural county the school board did not cut Pre-K days to 170 because it would have been a student transportation nightmare—they just made up the difference with local taxes, which was what the Governor was aiming at anyway.

Status Quo Again...

February 6th, 2013
8:18 am

More money, more money, more money!

Whats New.

Brasstown

February 6th, 2013
8:22 am

You know Milton Man, I’m sick of your crap. Go hate somewhere else.

Fellow educators, quit all the back-biting and blaming administrators. Sure there is plenty of bloat in some of the city systems, but most Principals and AP’s are vastly underpaid. Squeezing dollars out of education budgets is not the problem. Ga is one of the lowest taxed states in the country. That is the problem.

Folks comparing todays budget to the budget of the 60’s. You need to go back and look at drop out rates then, segregation, average family income, standard of living, etc. Ridiculous comparison. Public schools are doing an excellent job especially with no pay incentives to do better. Where in the heck did that part of the almighty “business model” go? Where is the that in the budget?

One more time Milton. Everyone has heard your redundant hate. Close it!

Larry Hultquist

February 6th, 2013
8:38 am

“spending on public education has doubled per student, after inflation, in the last 30ish years, and somehow we have a funding gap. And the eduacracy can’t understand why taxpayers aren’t buying their “the sky is falling and you need to pay more in taxes” crap anymore. Seriously?”

dc – according to the Cost of Living website – http://thecostofliving.com/index.php?id=87 , the average cost of a car ($8500) has more than doubled – you certainly can’t get an average car today for $18,673. Home prices have also more than doubled – 1983- avg. price $75,000. Seriously – check your facts before posting.

indigo

February 6th, 2013
8:47 am

And yet, when it comes to a new football stadium, you may be sure that, one way or another, the generous funding WILL be found.

It seems that nothing skewers common sense like professional sports.

sneak peak into education

February 6th, 2013
8:50 am

I am afraid Milton Man just got what he wanted- angry responses from the bloggers. Unfortunately he is a frequent troll on this blog and seeks to rile fellow bloggers with his hate-filled vilification of teachers and public education. Best to ignore unless he has something of worth to offer.

A Conservative Voice

February 6th, 2013
8:52 am

But, but, but, but, but, but, if you keep throwing money into it without any oversight, it’ll just be thrown into that big black hole that’s called waste and it’ll never be seen again. Shut down all funding by the state and force the counties/cities systems to fund all of the education costs. That will certainly cut down on the waste…….oh, one exception to that statement…….it does not apply to DeKalb County…….those dummies couldn’t put fifty pennies in a roll and make it come out right. That’s because as one is putting it in one end, the other is taking it out the other.

A Conservative Voice

February 6th, 2013
8:52 am

But, but, but, but, but, but, if you keep throwing money into it without any oversight, it’ll just be thrown into that big black hole that’s called waste and it’ll never be seen again. Shut down all funding by the state and force the counties/cities systems to fund all of the education costs. That will certainly cut down on the waste…….oh, one exception to that statement…….it does not apply to DeKalb County…….those dummies couldn’t put fifty pennies in a roll and make it come out right. That’s because as one is putting it in one end, the other is taking it out the other.

What's Best for Kids?

February 6th, 2013
9:06 am

@ Milton Man,
Again we will say it; this time maybe you will get it.
Teachers become teachers for a lot of reasons, the primary one is to help kids.
We also know that we will not make a lot of money; however, the benefits and the retirement are helpful. In 2007, not one of my students wanted to be teachers. Parents felt oh so sorry for me because I struggled financially.
Now, because I chose to help kids and get a decent benefits package (which is dwindling every year), I am sucking the taxpayer dry?
Home school your kids, Milton Man; send them to private school; but, please, shut the heck up about how teachers are worthless because we now make a quasi-competitive salary.

paulo977

February 6th, 2013
9:28 am

Maude ..”How dare you insult teachers”
______________________________________
He has no idea about what education is all about …..Well spoken!!!

Elaine

February 6th, 2013
9:28 am

I’m definitely in favor of cutting back on our bloated administrative ranks. On the way to work today, I listened to a recent episode of This American Life, in which Ira Glass interviewed twins who serve as co-principals of a middle school in California. I was shocked when he said that, in order to hire them as co-principals, the school had to sacrifice an assistant principal. In other words, the middle school’s admin staff consists of TWO PEOPLE, plus a secretary. (And the school seemed to be Title 1, not a super-high-performing campus with no behavior problems whatsoever.)

On the other hand…. The two previous middle schools where I taught (in a suburban ATL county) each had around 900 students, one principal, and four or five assistant principals. EACH. Granted, they were always quite busy, and I was glad to have the administrative support — but it still seems excessive. And this is the norm in metro Atlanta.

Here’s the problem, though: “cut all the bloated administration!” doesn’t mean that schools will magically have tons of extra cash after they lay off hundreds of assistant principals making $80-150K. Nearly all of these admins are former teachers with tenure* who worked their way up through the district’s ranks. The most likely outcome is that those APs will just be reassigned to the classroom or an office as “curriculum directors” — and the pay cut would only be about $10-20K. That’s a savings, yes, but not as large of a savings as most of us imagine.

* For the thousandth time: “tenure” in Georgia does NOT mean “permanent job no matter what you evil, degenerate things you do”. It means that you cannot be fired without due process (the county has to give a darn good reason for firing you and provide documentation.) And while I’m at it, Georgia does NOT have “evil, powerful teachers’ unions”. The unions here are basically just a monthly insurance policy for legal representation in case we ever get sued.

Brasstown

February 6th, 2013
9:31 am

Sneak,
You are right, of course. It’s just that after the latest news of a 2% cut, no step increase, more furlough days and a 30% increase in my insurance, I’ve had enough.

Hey Milton Troll-Close your pie-hole. That feels good.

DunMoody

February 6th, 2013
9:38 am

If our school system managed its per student funding better, teacher furloughs and larger class sizes wouldn’t be the inevitable result of the State’s budget cuts. Fiscally prudent companies figured out how to trim top salaries, redundant positions, and marketing budgets to weather this recession. Why can’t education?

South Georgia Educator

February 6th, 2013
9:48 am

@Mountain Man – In my rural, South Georgia system teachers received 3 furlough days while administrators received 8 furlough days.

What's Best for Kids?

February 6th, 2013
9:50 am

@DunMoody,

Fiscally prudent companies? The ones where the lower echelons are the working poor, but the CEOs and such make million dollar bonuses? I am a capitalist, but I haven’t read about any fiscally prudent companies recently; I’ve only read about the companies that rape the lower levels while buying mcmansions.

Batgirl

February 6th, 2013
9:58 am

H. S. Math Teacher, I am also disgusted with the degrees from Argosy, NOVA and Walden. You can now add Liberty University, a.k.a. Jerry Falwell College, to that list. But why just complain about non-academic teachers, administrators and coaches? These degrees are just as bogus for academic teachers as they are for the rest of us. We have a new math teacher this year who is Dr. So-and-So. I want to vomit every time I have to call her Dr. because I’m sure her degree did not come from a reputable school and because they did not teach her proper grammar in her disreputable school.

Cobb Guy

February 6th, 2013
10:02 am

And don’t forget to thank your county comissioners who were generous enough to exempt large chunks of the population from paying property taxes forever more. Seemed like a great idea to guarantee re-election, not so good anymore. And before anyone responds that you no longer have children in school, so why should you have to, I’d remind you that those of us who do not use Medicare, Senior Centers, subsidized housing for the elderly, etc., don’t use those either and have to pay for those as well. I might add that most of you DID have children in schools once upon a time, and the elderly back then DID pay property tax to support their education.

d

February 6th, 2013
10:08 am

A few years ago, GAE floated the idea of a temporary 1/2 cent sales tax to help offset the losses that school districts were facing because of declining property values. The cost to average taxpayer – fifty cents on every $100 spent, but more importantly, every person who just drives through the state and grabs a Big Mac on their way to Spring Break in Florida or changes planes at Hartsfield-Jackson and grabs a coffee at Starbucks would be helping to fund K-12 education – which is a constitutional priority.

Batgirl

February 6th, 2013
10:11 am

Maureen, why did my post not post? My comments were clean except for the word “vomit”.

DunMoody

February 6th, 2013
10:11 am

@What’s Best for Kids? Generalizations sound and feel good, but they aren’t always reality. I’m familiar with a lot of small and mid-size businesses who didn’t indulge in what you describe. Instead, they hunkered down, checked their budgets, and did what they could to keep salaried and hourly employees on the front line. That included taking pay cuts in the head office and cutting all travel, parties, risky ventures, and other feel-good activities while protecting the integrity and quality of their services and products. Again, why can’t education?

mom of 3

February 6th, 2013
10:14 am

If you are a teacher posting on this blog, please use to and too properly. It will give you more credibility.

Maureen Downey

February 6th, 2013
10:14 am

@Batgirl: Not sure why the auto filter quarantined your post, but it is out now.
Maureen

Whatever

February 6th, 2013
10:15 am

Comprehension,

With 85% of the local budget being for salary it’s hard to make many effective cuts from other areas.

MiltonMan

February 6th, 2013
10:33 am

“I am insulted by “Milton Man’s” comments….Low GPAs! I graduated from college with a 4.0 (summa cum laude). Do you know what that is Milton Man? I didn’t take one dime from the governement to finance my education either. I worked and went to school for 8 YEARS so I could becoma a teacher and now this is the thanks I get….no salary increase for the last 5 years….furlough days….larger classes….????? Tell me “Milton Man” who helped you get your diploma or do you even have one?”

Classic! You bash me for being critical of your profession then turn around & bash me. Take your medication.

FYI clown: I graduated with a degree both a BS & MS in engineering; many of my fellow classmates dropped out because “it was too hard” and decided to take the easy way out & major in elementary/secondary education. I am assuming since you graduated with a 4.0, you received an “A” in multivaraible calculus? Also, please ignore the numerous studies that have proven grade inflation for non-STEM majors.

You did not take one dime…? Let me guess, your parents paid for your education?

living in an outdated ed system

February 6th, 2013
10:34 am

The QBE formula is outdated and needs to change. There has been great work done on improving it, making it more of a “student-based” formula. That has nothing to do with the total amount of funding, but certainly would help ensure the funding is allocated more effectively.

Lets fix the system before we start asking for more funding. This is an old story – there is plenty of research that shows there is no correlation between additional funding and higher academic achievement.

Fix the system, and when we see a turnaround in performance indicators, I would welcome additional funding with open arms.

Just A Teacher

February 6th, 2013
10:36 am

You either pay to educate them now or to incarcerate them later. It seems the governor has decided to do the latter.

MiltonMan

February 6th, 2013
10:37 am

“I am afraid Milton Man just got what he wanted- angry responses from the bloggers. Unfortunately he is a frequent troll on this blog and seeks to rile fellow bloggers with his hate-filled vilification of teachers and public education. Best to ignore unless he has something of worth to offer.”

Like you ignored me there chief??? Truth hurts you??? It is called the 1st admendment. Maybe you all-knowing teachers should actually look it up ever so often & perhaps, just perhaps, discuss it it your class.

Heika

February 6th, 2013
10:41 am

@Future Gov Writing about your anger at Internet comments is like scolding an incontinent puppy for wetting the rug. You’ve wasted your time, and the puppy won’t learn anything.

reality check

February 6th, 2013
10:47 am

So what is the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute?

It was founded in 2004 and its positions consistently support more government spending for a variety of purposes. If you scan the credentials of the staff it is immediately obvious there are a lot of displaced New Yorkers, Philadelphians and Wisconsins and an alumnus of the Martin Luther King Center.

This organization claims to be non partisan and objective. Of course it does. The reality is it is left leaning and has limited credibility.

Private Citizen

February 6th, 2013
10:54 am

Dear Milton Man, In the humanities, we are taught to not generalise. :-)

Understanding Atlanta

February 6th, 2013
10:54 am

School systems in metro Atlanta are just bloated. There are too many assistant principals, assistant superintendents, associate superintendents, regional directors, district coordinators, and other titles that are thinly veiled attempts to justify hiring friends – we’ve seen it no matter what race, gender or creed a systems leadership is.

It’s time for each district to trim the fat starting with the school board. Most school board members don’t have what it takes to manage a multi-million dollar enterprise like a school system. They don’t know how to operate lean while not reducing services. I personally believe superintendents should have the same credentials of college/university presidents which are first and foremost typically fundraisers with a Provost that handles the academics.