Local Schools Need More Money

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October 26, 2005
Most of the money it takes to run school programs may soon be coming out of your pocket. And that’s because local schools are not getting enough from the Department of Education. News 12 is on your side with the rising cost of public education.

Georgia schools have lost about $400 million. And $13 million of that came from Columbia County. The current system of funding called “Quality Basic Education” isn’t giving local systems the amount promised when the plan was established in 1985. So local systems may have to make up the difference with your tax dollars.

About fifteen parents, teachers and school board members turned up at Greenbrier High School. The mission is to discuss Georgia’s education budget. Greenbrier Principal Margie Hamilton is concerned that local school systems have to pay for special education, textbooks, facilities and maintenance, and transportation.

“Columbia County tries to afford us every dime we can scrape up to help with students,” Hamilton said.

The lack of funds has really hurt some Columbia County schools. Several special education programs did not meet the requirements for No Child Left Behind this past year.

Mike Sleeper, with the Columbia County Board of Education, says they also need more money to build new schools to accommodate the 800 new students the system got this year. The total is at 21,000.

“We’ve had a growth explosion here in Columbia County,” Sleeper said.

Wednesday night, seventeen locations across Georgia gathered to hear Governor Sonny Perdue speak over public television.

“All of our citizens have a stake in education,” Gov. Perdue said.

Laura Gibbs, with the Department of Education, is here from Atlanta to give locals an idea of what it takes to put together a budget.

“The exercise allows them to take on a role as principal and what they would do to improve achievement,” Gibbs said.

And then they gave their input on where Georgia money should go. QBE is supposed to allocate sixty percent of local costs, but they are only paying forty-six. And most of that is going to teachers’ salaries.

Principal Hamilton would like to see the money that makes up more than half the state budget used in a way that will give more benefit to her school system.

“We need more money, more resources. We need to upgrade our technology at a faster rate,” Hamilton said.

More resources for a better education.

The legislature will take local input into consideration when they appropriate funds. If local systems do not get any more funding, your property taxes may go up to cover school programs.