Committee Releases Initial Proposals for School Funding in Georgia

Last Updated: September 28, 2011

This article appeared in the September 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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A committee to review Georgia’s main school funding mechanism, the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE), released initial recommendations earlier this month. Those recommendations include increasing funding for technology and leadership training, expanding the number of school nurses and improving nurses’ salaries, and ending Georgia’s “65% rule,” which requires that at least 65% of education funding be directed toward classroom expenses.

The committee, which is made up of lawmakers, educators, public officials, and business leaders, was created by the state legislature to come up with revisions to the QBE. QBE was enacted in 1985 and has never been altered, although five previous committees have been convened to study it. Final recommendations from the current committee are required by September 30, 2012, and proposed legislation is due by December 31, 2012.

The state has made more than $1 billion in “austerity” cuts to the K–12 education budget. As a result, school systems have been forced to cut programs and furlough teachers. Further, equalization grants for low-wealth, mostly rural, schools systems that have little ability to generate local revenue have been cut by $200 million, from $600 million to $400 million.

Meanwhile, Governor Nathan Deal has promised his own education reform plan that he says will dovetail with the work of the committee. His first recommendation is to create a program to provide extra pay to teachers of reading in the early grades. Deal has not released details, but he has suggested the program might be similar to another program that attempts to increase the number of math and science teachers through a salary boost.

Read more:

Local coverage of the Committee’s work and other funding recommendations:

Editorial commentary on the role of the Committee:

Read more from the September 2011 Rural Policy Matters.