Day 25: Teacher Bill of Rights Revisited
by Angela Palm on 3/16/2010

In January, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle created a Budget Task Force to get business leaders' views on how to cut state spending while providing essential services without raising taxes.  The Task Force issued its report today.  They estimated their fifty recommendations would be worth $3 billion. Eight of the suggestions were related to K-12 education.  Some have been discussed and fought over before:

  • Allow SPLOST funds to be used for operations and capital outlay
  • Merit-based pay system for teachers
  • Shifting retirement to a defined contribution plan
  • Outsourcing or expanding shared services in RESAs to provide accounting, human resources, payroll, curriculum development, transportation, maintenance, janitorial, and food services
  • Increase teacher contributions to their retirement fund to 6% in FY 2011
  • Freeze automatic step increases to align teacher and other state employee compensation
  • Greater use of the Georgia Virtual School and other online providers
  • Hold schools accountable for money management through financial strategic planning

The Senate leadership will take the recommendations under consideration, but the Lt. Governor noted the task force did not have to consider the politics of the suggestions -- which of course the Lt. Governor and the Senators will.

Teachers' Bill of Rights Up Again

The Senate Education and Youth Committee met today to consider four bills.  SB 320, the teachers' bill of rights, was first heard earlier in the session. Sen. Judson Hill brought it back today with a few small changes.  He said much of this bill is based on Cobb County procedures.  Looks like it's too bad about the current procedures in the other 179 systems.  Chairman Dan Weber asked GSSA and GSBA to review our concerns with the bill.  He also asked GAE if they would like to comment, and they asked that the name be changed to the Educators' Bill of Rights.  The Chairman intended to call for a vote on the bill today, but legislative counsel found that it conflicted with other current statutes, so a committee substitute is to be brought to the Committee meeting Thursday morning.

They gave a "Do Pass" to SB 420, which exempts pandemic illnesses from counting against perfect attendance; SR 1190, temporarily reducing professional learning requirements from 100 to 50 and creating a task force to look at the requirements; and SB 457, allowing a local board to authorize a referendum vote for a proposed cluster charter rather than the faculty and parental votes in each school.  

Budget Changes Clarified

More specific information is now available on the changes the Governor recommended last Thursday to the budgets.  The change to FY 2010 is an accounting one, swapping state funds for federal:

  • Cut $201 million from QBE
  • Add $201 million in ARRA stabilization funds to FY 2010

The FY 2011 changes are:

  • After subtracting the $201 million in ARRA funds moved into FY 2010, $141 million is left in 2011
  • Adding $100 million back to QBE

Yes, don't faint, the line above does say "add."  Keep in mind though that there is only $141 million in stabilization funds to offset QBE cuts.  The Department of Education has to recommend $16 million in additional cuts to its budget.  The Governor has exempted QBE, equalization, state schools, and state interagency transfers from these cuts.  All these recommendations are subject to legislative agreement.



Tuesday, March 17

The General Assembly will be in session.

Senate Government Oversight Committee will hear the proposal to change four Constitutional, elected officers -- including the State Superintendent -- to appointees of the Governor at 3 PM in 125 CAP.

Senate Finance Committee will meet at 4 PM in 310 CLOB.  Rumor had it HB 480, changing the motor vehicle tax to a title fee, would be on the agenda but it is not currently.

Thursday, March 18

The General Assembly will be in session.

Senate Education and Youth Committee will meet at 8 AM in 310 CLOB.  The agenda is to be decided.

Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education will meet at 9 AM in 506 CLOB.  The agenda is to be decided.