Day 34: Do more with less
by Jim Puckett on 4/12/2010

As work on the FY 10 supplemental and the FY 11 budgets continues, observers to budget deliberations are frequently reminded that state government, including education, must learn to do more with less.  That being the case, as the 2010 Legislative Session drags on, it is hoped that we will not be expected to do everything with nothing!

The K-12 House Education Appropriations Subcommittee gave a do pass recommendation on this 34th day to its portion of the FY 11 state budget, and as expected, the recommendation contains a variety of cuts.  The cursory list below outlines some of the cuts.  Readers may expect a more detailed budget overview of the House version of the budget following expected action of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

  • Academic Coach: eliminate program and transfer math tutor funds and functions to RESA  ($1.7M)
  • Agricultural Education: reduce extended day/year ($168,367); reduce area teacher program ($173,989); reduce young farmers ($311,957)
  • Department of Education: reduce personnel position by 200; reduce contracts ($400,000)
    • Testing: eliminate CRCT in grades 1 & 2 and eliminate writing tests in grades 3 & 5 (reduction in administration funds of $650,000 and reduce administration of tests, $2M); reduce SAT prep ($263,736); reduce PSAT ($815,000); provide funds for PSAT and 2 AP exams for free and reduced lunch students (reduce ($5M); eliminate state funds for Iowa Test of Basic Skills ($565,000)
    • Curriculum Development: reduce funds ($1M and provide funds for math only)
    • GA Virtual School: reduce funds for course development ($232,000)
    • Governor's Honors: provide funds for four weeks.
  • Charter Schools: reduce facility grants ($182,201); eliminate implementation grants ($125,000); remove one-time funds for the Charter School Commission ($140,000)
  • National Board Certification: eliminate funding ($7.2M)
  • National Science Center: eliminate funding ($500,000)
  • Non-QBE Formula Grants:
    • Eliminate funding for Sparsity Grants ($6M)
    • Eliminate funds for migrant education ($249,000)
  • Nutrition: reduction in funds ($12.9M)
  • Preschool Handicapped: reduce ($2.2M)
  • Pupil Transportation: reduce ($4.3M)
  • QBE: fund enrollment increase at .67% for growth and training and experience; restore funds to QBE -- $100M
  • RESA: provide funds for core services - $6M
    • eliminate Education Technology Centers and add function to RESA -- add $3.5M to RESA
    • add Math Mentor funds to RESA -- add $1.7M to RESA
    • utilize RESAs to provide school improvement services - $2M.
  • School Nurses: reduce ($1.6M)
  • Technology/Career Ed: reduce extended day/year ($417,000); reduce vocational supervisors ($352,000); eliminate High Schools That Work ($362,000)

In other budget news, the House "disagreed" withe the Senate version of the FY 2010 continuation budget, in all likelihood leading to a conference committee.

The Senate:

  • passed HB 703 with an amendment, allowing school systems to sell surplus facilities to other governmental entities.
  • agreed with the House substitute to SB 319 which allows state funds to be spent on electronic learning materials.
  • amended the House version of the school board governance bill, SB 84 removing language that would allow board members who have close family members serving as an administrator in the system to appeal to the State Board for permission to remain on the local board.  The bill now goes to the House for agreement or disagreement with the Senate action.
  • Adopted a calendar which called for a recess for Thursday and Friday of this week.  The House has not yet agreed to the proposal.

It is not unusual for tensions to rise as the General Assembly nears day 40 of the session and this year added stress revolves around budget issues.  Tensions were at a high peak in the Senate today when Senator Preston Smith rose to strongly denounce action last week by the Republican caucus stripping him of a Committee chairmanship, allegedly because of his refusal to go along with a "tax increase" and his vote against HB 307 which, in his words, was arm twisting of the most vile sort. (HB 307 added a tax on hospital profits and was coupled with a decrease in taxes on insurance premiums.) Other Senators rose to defend HB 307 as necessary to balance the budget. Usually, such interactions are kept from public view, but today's public disagreement shows that even among members of the same party, disagreements on policy can erupt. Looks like an interesting end of this legislative session is in the works.

Schedule for Tuesday, April 13:

  • House Appropriations Committee, 9:00, 341 Capitol
    • Consideration of the FY 2011 budget
  • House Education Committee, 11:00, 406 CLOB
    • SR 153 Constitutional amendment allowing for creation of educational improvement districts to provide for the provision of land or facilities for public schools
    • SB 239 revises provisions related to mandatory attendance
    • SB 387 provides for career counseling and advisement for students in grades 6-12
    • SB 427 allows creation of charter "clusters" if approved by voters residing within the boundaries of the cluster
    • SB 427 establishes a Foundation for Public Education  to solicit and accept contributions for educational purposes
    • SB 521 modifies the funding provided for dual enrollment students
  • Senate Education Committee, 3:00, 307 CLOB
    • HB 493 creates the Georgia Youth Conservation Corps to assist in residential home improvement weatherization projects
    • HB 396 allows school bus replacement funds to be utilized for refurbishing
    • HB 1307 temporarily suspends professional learning requirements for certification renewal for teachers and paraprofessionals