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More education reform commission recommendations
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

The most apparent recommendation of the funding subcommittee is the $467.4 million in new spending that the subcommittee proposes. This new funding, based on the fiscal year 2016 student enrollment or FTE, would bring total K-12 education to an appropriation of $8.68 billion without any new growth in students considered.

The largest proposal recommended would change the QBE (Quality Basic Education) formula funding to a student-based funding model that contains increased weights/funding for K-3, 4-5 math, literacy, economically disadvantaged systems, gifted programming and high school grades 9-12.

The second major change funds compensation to school districts for teachers based on the statewide average teacher salary level. For those systems whose state-provided salaries average higher than the state average, funding would be added to “hold harmless” those systems, so no system would lose funds at the present time. School systems are empowered to create new teacher compensation plans with the only requirements being the inclusion of “a performance component.”

The language in the recommendations allows current teachers to remain under the Training and Experience schedule so there would be no changes in compensation for current teachers. Systems are empowered already under either management system, IE2 or charter systems structure, to design or change future compensation systems. School systems would continue to be funded for existing teachers on the T&E schedule.

Other recommendations

Central office staff (assistant superintendents) are funded based on student enrollment ranging from two assistant superintendents for enrollment under 5000 students to sixteen assistants for enrollments over 125,000 students. Sparsity grants are changed to Low Enrollment/Low Density Grants and the funding increased. All schools now receiving grants would qualify under the new definition and the two that do not are held harmless. Total increase in funding: $34.6 million.

There is a time-limited specialized grant for systems that might earn less under the new student-based funding model. This funding is proposed to be guaranteed for at least three years.

Charter systems, who operate with a school level governance model, would receive a $92.40 per student supplement with a system cap of $4.5 million.

State virtual charter schools are proposed to continue to earn funding as all other public schools. State charter schools are slated to receive about 7 percent in increased funding under the new student-based funding model.

The commission recommended no changes in the Regional Educational Service Agencies (RESAs). Additionally, the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program was recommended for no changes as well. State Schools (For the Deaf and For the Blind) were recommended to continue to receive funding under the present method.

Residential treatment facilities, which are responsible for children under the care and supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), Department of Human Services (DHS), or Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), are recommended for a change to a formula that includes full-time enrollment and average daily attendance, including the difference between the Disability category and regular student earnings, and including funding for other areas like counselors, parapros and maintenance and operations.

The Preschool Handicapped grants would be funded with about $1 million in additional funding with little change except for calculating instructional salaries. DJJ schools’ funding was proposed unchanged.

Read the entire report of the Education Reform Commission at Funding for education is not expected to be impacted by these recommendations for the FY17 budget.

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