Consortium responds to recommended education budget
For Immediate Release: January 18, 2005
Contact: Joe Martin, 404-872-9651, www.casfg.org
ATLANTA - Following the budget hearings at the State Capitol yesterday, the board of directors of the Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia expressed grave concern about the implications of the recommended budget for the education of Georgia’s students.
While thanking Governor Sonny Perdue for making education a priority within the state’s current revenues, the board emphasized that the proposed budget would not alleviate the financial crisis facing Georgia’s schools. Although no additional cuts are being proposed in the education budget, the loss in annual funding from previous cuts is not being restored.
The proposed budget retains virtually all of the previous austerity reductions and cuts within the funding formula for the basic program in the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act. According to the Consortium, the continuing cuts total $395 million, including an across-the- board austerity reduction of $333 million. They are equivalent to about $260 per student or roughly $5,500 per typical class. Moreover, the lack of any adjustment for inflation actually means a continuing reduction in state support of local schools.
Dr. William A. Hunter, president of the Consortium, summarized the predicament for Georgia’s schools as follows. “In one sense, the pain will not be increased, but as local systems continue to pick up additional expenses, defer maintenance, cut programs even further, and deplete what little they have left in reserves, the impact on our students will become even worse. Unless changes are made, there will be a further shift in the cost of the basic educational program from the state to the local level.”
The board welcomed the proposed 2% salary increase for teachers, which would cost the state about $106 million. The earnings by local systems through the formula would rise by this amount, but local systems would also have to pay the local salary supplement for the employees recognized in the state formula and the full raise for all other employees.
The recommended midterm adjustment in the supplemental budget for FY 2005 would help in covering the cost of increased enrollment throughout the state. Completing the phase-in of the new formula for Equalization Grants, previously adopted in 2000, would also help many systems, but does not address the under-funding of the basic program, since Equalization Grants are intended to assist the least wealthy systems in going beyond the basic program.
The continuing cuts and other under-funding of the basic QBE program in FY 2006 are shown in the following table.
with 21 Students
|Cuts within the QBE Formula||$40||$26||$551|
|Cuts in Student Transportation||$22||$14||$303|
|Subtotal for Direct Cuts||$395||$257||$5,444|
|Impact of Inflation since FY02||$462||$303||$6,368|
|Under-Funding of the QBE|
Formula in FY02 (minimum)
Joseph G. Martin, Jr., executive director of the Consortium, released other data to show the dramatic shift in the cost of the basic QBE program from the state to local school systems over the last three years. This shift amounts to nearly $600 million or about $400 per student.
From FY 2002 to FY 2005, state funding has decreased by 4% per student, while the amount a system is supposed to receive under the QBE formula increased by 4% per student.
The Consortium is a coalition of 51 local school systems, which has filed a lawsuit to enforce the state’s constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education for all of its students. The goal of the lawsuit, according to Martin, is to increase state funding to all local school systems in Georgia.
For further information, contact Al Hunter at 912-462-6176 or Joe Martin at 404-872-9651 or visit the Consortium's website at www.casfg.org.
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