Educators want the state to give them more flexibility to make budget and classroom decisions. That has been one of the consistent requests Representative Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, and others on the joint education committee have received as they have toured the state over the last few months.
“I’ve heard that over and over and over—hold them accountable for what they’re doing, but give them the flexibility to work with their schools and their community to do these things,” said Rep. Coleman. “[They want] flexibility with spending, flexibility with class sizes, flexibility with the money that they have.”
The committee has hosted eight public listening sessions, and it wrapped up the series with a session at Georgia Regents University in Augusta Tuesday.
Senator Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, said school administrators have expressed concerns about the legislature making specific earmarks, rather than just increasing the education budget overall.
“Quite often earmarking money for a specific program does not fund the entire program and to some extent it becomes an unfunded mandate,” Sen. Tippins explained.
Education stakeholders also expressed concerns that school systems could face even more financial strain should Georgia dissolve its relationship with the widely-adopted Common Core standards.
“I don’t think anyone would get up and say Common Core is perfect,” said Tippins. “But what we’re hearing is because it was rolled out in 2010, so many systems have already made investments in the Common Core curriculum, their feeling right now is if you abandon it and go a different direction, they don’t have the funds to acquire new curriculum.”
Tippins said members of the joint education committee will meet with Governor Nathan Deal this month to share their findings.