Schools File Lawsuits

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

October 27, 2005
Fifty-one Georgia school districts have banded together to sue the state, claiming it’s failing to give education enough funding. And less funding could cost you. News 12 is on your side with why Columbia County chose not to join in the lawsuit and may raise property taxes instead.

Homeowner Lisa Cummins is willing to give a few extra tax dollars to cover the five percent drop in school funding from the state of Georgia over the last few years.

“That’s one of the drawbacks to owning a house is paying property taxes. If that is what needs to be done then it should,” Cummins said.

Last night, educators and parents met across the state of Georgia as part of Governor Sonny Perdue’s Educational Task Force. They gave feedback on how to make up for the roughly $200 million in extra dollars the local systems are having to pay.

“A heavier burden has been shifted from the state to the systems,” said Tommy Price, Columbia County Superintendent.

The Georgia report card says Columbia County spends around $6,000 per student; most districts spend almost $7,000. Those savings helped keep Columbia County out of this lawsuit.

Property taxes make up almost 38 percent of Columbia County’s school budget. So they didn’t feel the need to join last year’s lawsuit.

A nonprofit organization made up of mostly rural districts is suing the state of Georgia, State Superintendent Kathy Cox, and others. Columbia County Chairman Kathy Buccafusco says Columbia County is not part of the group, the consortium for adequate school funding in Georgia.

“They say the state has not adequately funded education,” Buccafusco said.

Lisa Cummins is all for paying more taxes to keep Columbia County out of court.

“The kids need to go to school, and the only way to build new schools is to raise taxes, if that is what has to be done then it should be done,” Cummins said.

Whether it is a court case or taxes, the $200 million has to come from somewhere.

The case has been delayed since the death of Judge Rowland Barnes in this year’s courthouse shooting in Atlanta. The state asked for a motion to dismiss the case, and is waiting for a ruling.

A final report from Governor Sonny Perdue’s educational task force will be out late next year. As for the tax hike in Columbia County, your taxes may increase one dollar for every thousand of what your home is worth.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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