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Big impact from budget for schools

POSTED: April 28, 2014 6:28 p.m.

Secondary education received the majority of all new spending in the fiscal year 2015 general budget, but this was not a year with a lot of K-12 legislation being considered, which probably suits most educators just fine.


The biggest news, maybe, was what did not pass, as much education discussion this session centered around the Common Core Curriculum. In the end, nothing passed, leaving systems to continue down whatever path they are on with the standards still in place and local control of the application.


Legislation that did pass included:
• SR 875 - A joint study commission will be appointed by both Houses to study the reporting of local tax digests for formula, local fair share and equalization purposes and the role that payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) abatements play in the process. The commission will decide if policies should be developed for determining the resolution of property tax base reporting errors.

• HB 766 - Renames the Youth Apprenticeship Program the Work-Based Learning Act. Lays out guidelines for the State Board of Education to establish for eligibility, skill areas for study, training plans required, hours of on-the-job training required and requires the participation of both DOE and Technical College System for curriculum and training courses. Allows college and career academies to participate.

• HB 826 - Defines more closely what is a hazardous object that violates the law on school campuses.  Gives local systems more authority to regulate punishments as they deem appropriate.

• SB 301 - Allows wood construction to be used in public school construction where wood meets equal minimum standards.


Education receives majority of new state spending
Education, particularly K-12 education, received the lion’s share of the new funding appropriated in the FY 2015 general budget, which grew at a 3 percent rate, $602.5 million in new spending.


Specific spending items include:

•$314.3 million - Education Formula Increase-Budget language:  to “offset austerity reduction in order to provide local educational authorities the flexibility to eliminate furlough days, increase instructional days and increase teachers’ salaries.” The stated goal of educators and state leaders alike has been to put students back in classrooms the full 180 instructional days and fully fund teachers’ classroom and planning days.  Most systems are using the funds as directed by the budget.

• $3.2 million for sparsity grants for 22 newly-identified school systems while holding harmless the existing 21 systems qualifying.

• Fully funds equalization of $479.3 million after adding $5 million based on updated calculations.

• Adds $99.9 million for enrollment growth and training and experience scale for teachers.

• Increases base pay of school nurses from $42,000 to $45,000 and increases state share of costs to from 45 percent to 50 percent. Insurance will be paid by systems as for other non-certified employees.

• Establishes a $5 million innovation fund to award grants for the implementation of innovative programs in education.

• Adds $500,000 for the development of replicable “soft skills” pilot programs in college and career academies to help high school students prepare for the work force. Also calls for ASFAB-type skills evaluation of high school students at the beginning of high school to identify strengths and aptitude.

In FY14A, $25 million was appropriated to the OneGeorgia Program for competitive grants to local systems for acquisition of increased network bandwidth, wireless connectivity, live online instruction and other “digital platforms.”


Bonds — a state commitment to school facilities
• $187.6 million - to fully fund school construction at the $300 million level

• $45.8 million - for regular advance, low-wealth and additional low-wealth system school construction

• $2 million - for K-12 vocational equipment – five-year bonds

• $20 million - to purchase 259 school buses for school districts statewide – 10-year bonds

• $14 million - for competitive grants to local systems for technology infrastructure to bring local systems into the technological era.


If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.  The state budget is also online at www.legis.ga.gov, then “Senate” and then select “Budget and Evaluation Office.”


I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7092 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

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