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Monday, June 11, 2012 - 2:00am

Figuring Out School Funding

A state committee is working to change how the state funds schools. Georgia hasn’t updated its education funding formula since the 1980’s.

State Representative Brooks Coleman of Duluth co-chairs the State Education Finance Study Commission. He says what members hear from school principals is that schools need more budget flexibility than they have now

“It says you’ve got to spend this amount for first grade, this amount for second grade. Well maybe this year you don’t need any money in first grade, but you need a lot in fifth grade. So give em’ that flexibility.”

He says under the current formula, schools don’t have the flexibility to adapt with the times.

“That shocked us, how little we were putting in technology and how critical that was to the education. We also found that some of our gifted, more advanced classes that teachers are able to handle maybe 30 or 40 children where in some of the other classes they needed 4 or 5 children. So those are some of the things we’re looking at.”

Tim Callahan with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators says flexibility will help, but schools need more money.

“ School systems have found, alas, that they cannot pay their transportation bills or their utility bills with flexibility. They actually need real money.”

Callahan says an outdated formula means schools have been losing a billion dollars a year.

Coleman says commission members are also looking at paying ‘hard to find’ teachers a little more. And he says they are looking at ways to add funding directly to the classroom. He hopes to have the commission's recommendations to the Governor by September.

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