Sunday, April 02, 2006

Perdue Policy Starves Neighborhood Schools

As soon as the session ended, The Perdue Team was in front of cameras, promoting the fantasy that they have done great things for education in Georgia. I'll bet there are some folks in Twiggs County saying, "Not so fast, Sonny!"

As The Perdue Team congratulated one another, in the real world of school finance, the school board in Twiggs county faced angry and disappointed parents and voted to close the just renovated Dry Branch Elementary, a move necessary to address their million dollar deficit and projections that if the school were not closed, then the system would literally run out of money by mid-year. Twiggs is but one example of many high poverty and rural school systems that have fallen victim to a lethal combination of an eroding taxbase and increased unfunded state and federal mandates.

After cutting more than 1.25 billion from the state's education budget, Perdue, during this election year, hopes that teachers will be silenced by a long-passed-due 4% raise and a $100 gift card. He hopes parents and teachers alike will be fooled by the sound-bite-ready DC think tank election strategy to gut local control of schools, dubbed by some "The 65% Deception" and his move-finally-to reduce class size.

Perdue thinks that he has found the "Easy Button" for education-or maybe just the "Easy Button" for re-election. The truth of the matter is that The Perdue Team has abandoned our neighborhood schools, already starving some, like Dry Branch, out of existence.

Georgians deserve better than election year gimmicks. We deserve a Governor who will make a fulltime commitment to excellence in our schools, a Governor who answers to the people of Georgia, not to special interests or some DC think-tank. We need to elect Cathy Cox.

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4 comments:

cmob said...

School me on Twiggs County.

They have 1400+/- students in the county and they don’t have a strong enough tax base to raise $7659 per child? (http://www.georgiastats.uga.edu/counties/289.pdf)

What is the millage rate of the school system there? Are they at the 20 mill cap?

Keith said...

School in sesion: Twiggs mill is 16.18 for the county and the school is maxed at 20. Now keep in mind the formula to determine the mil rate is used to match revenues with budgets. When the budget is adjusted higher then you will need more money, simple except the mil rate is capped at 20 mils and you can't raise anymore money to pay for services. In more simple terms, when governments are faced with potential shortfalls there are only two options: 1. raise revenue (taxes mainly- but in this case you are maxed) or 2. Cut services (close a school). The system did not have control of this desicion, it was pretty much made for them, is the 65% soundbite still sounding good- cmob?

cmob said...

There are many problems with the educational funding package. I do not agree with how the state keeps having austerity cuts in this area when the state is running a surplus of a billion dollars or more. The band aide placed on the issue by the Governor and his staff wasn’t the best solution.

Local control over how money is spent is just that, local. The Republican Party for so long has championed the locals knows best mantra and then threw it away. A better way to have addressed the issue of how money is spent is rewarding those systems that excel and are spending the lions share on teaching children. There are counties that do both and still have school funding issues. Where I live we get 3500+ children a year added to the rolls and hundreds of trailers for classrooms. We are at the 19.5 mill now.

I have voiced my concerns with the powers that be on both sides of the aisle to no avail. What we need is to have a real reform on school funding and get away from the property tax only method. We will see this happen next year when there are no elections. This school sales tax idea is not the best answer but some type of sales tax with property tax might need to be examined.

School systems do not need to just sit there and say no we can not change how we fund; they need to be open and look for new ways. Property taxes are outrageous.

The 65% rule takes local control out of the equation. That said, charities that spend the highest percentage of a dollar donated are the best. If we spend money in the classroom and not on high priced salaries of support people and or administrators then we will get better results. Lead with a carrot and not with a stick.

Amy Morton said...

There is also the problem with how the 65% is calculated and the problem that the research does not support the conclusion that this is a magic number. I also thought that it was interesting that Patrick Bryne, the owner of Overstock.com, who put this idea forward describes that this plan sort of came to him. It's like he created the soundbite and the strategy and the went out to look for confirming research. That's kind of backwards. Plus, he does not have training that would qualify him as an education expert. On the issue of having to look seriously at how we fund education, I agree, but I do think that a huge part of the problem is that politicians like to pass bills so they can ssy they did something, and that something most often does not include an adequate funding plan. I think that providing a billion dollar tax cut for big business while cutting 1.25 from education was a very short sited strategy. It would be interesting to look at a map tha show economic developement gains and losses in Georgia during the last three years. I wonder how that would relate to school funding/success?