Ga. Looking at Repealing Education Spending Law

Courtney Williams's picture
Thursday, January 5, 2012

Georgia is considering throwing out a law requiring that 65 percent of education funding be spent in public school classrooms, part of an effort to overhaul how Georgia funds K-12 education.

A state commission voted Wednesday to draw up legislation repealing the unpopular rule, which critics say hasn't improved student achievement and hamstrings cash-strapped schools. The move is part of an overall push to give the state's 180 school districts more flexibility in how they spend state funding, which has seen massive cuts in the past few years.

The 65 percent law was passed in 2006 during a national push to make sure schools were spending taxpayer dollars in the classroom — not the principal's office — to help boost student performance. Georgia and Texas were the only states to formally adopt the rule last decade, but it has since been overturned by state lawmakers in Texas.

"It certainly sounded like a very good idea, but it turned out based upon statistical data, it doesn't have relevance to academic performance," said state Senate education committee chairman Fran Millar, a Republican from Atlanta. "At the end of the day, academically, it didn't make any sense."

The law also didn't apply to school libraries or counselors, which meant that those resources were cut first when districts had to reduce spending.

The education finance commission — composed of state lawmakers, teachers, school administrators and business leaders — began meeting in June 2011 after state lawmakers passed a bill calling for the state to study education funding. It is tasked with updating the state's education laws, known as Title 20, and rewriting the formula used to determine how much money school districts receive from the state.

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