The Georgia General Assembly is half way down their 40 day road. Here are some of the education issues coming down the pipe.
HB 969 – School Tax Rate Cut
There are 180 school districts in Georgia and DeKalb Schools pays the 2nd highest school tax (millage) rate in the state. Art. VIII – Sec VI of the Georgia Constitution says, the “school system shall annually certify to its fiscal authority or authorities a school tax not greater than 20 mills per dollar for the support and maintenance of education.”
House Bill 969 was dropped last week which would affect the funding for certain counties funding their school districts over 20 mills. The state constitution prohibits school districts from having a millage rate over 20 mills but provides an exception for certain districts. DeKalb has received this exception since 1971. House Bill 969 only affects county school systems having, in addition to the county school system, one or more cities school systems. There is only one county school district, containing a city school district, that taxes over 20 mills … DeKalb.
HB 659 – Financial Transparency and Disclosure
The House passed HB 659 which requires systems and schools to report certain financial information via web sites. Boards of education shall make the following accessible to the public:
- school site budgets and expenditures
- cost of all materials, equipment, and other nonstaff support
- salary and benefit expenditures for all staff
- cost of all professional development
- total cost of facility maintenance and small capital projects
- cost of new construction or facility repair reported on a per square foot basis
- school district annual budget
- annual audits on the system finances
- ratio of expenditures to revenues
- total dollar amount of local property tax revenue the system is authorized to collect and the total program mill levy
- total dollar amount of all other tax revenue collected
- total dollar amount of all additional private funds received or distributed to each school within the system
HB 977 – Limit public college tuition and student fee increases
According to the college board, since 1978 the cost of living has increased roughly 3-fold while college tuition and fees increase has approached 10-fold. HB 977 attempts to tie college tuition and fee increases to the rate of inflation.
1. Regarding HB 969, do you think there is any possibility that the reduction of the DeKalb millage rate back to 20 mils or less could be done over a 3 or 5 year period? I worry about a drastic, immediate cut in school funding but it is clear that DCSD has not been a good steward of this extra tax revenue that it has been raking in. Having a 3 or 5 year plan would give Dr. Green time to make an orderly adjustment to match the reduced assessment level, but would also end the excess costs that DeKalb taxpayers must pay. It makes no sense to pay the top millage rate in the state and have such a poor record of academic achievement overall.
2. Regarding HB 659, do you know the details of what “school site budgets and expenditures” means? DCSD already lists for each school the personnel costs and the small travel/supplies/equipment funds that the Principal manages. But that doesn’t explain where the rest of the $$ earned by students are spent – there is little if any transparency there.
Does HB 659 go beyond this, to require that DCSD shows where the funds earned at each school are actually spent? The public has zero confidence that students benefit from the funds they earn, or even that students at another school benefit from funds earned elsewhere. Non-teaching adults ppear to be the ones benefiting from those funds, and that isn’t right.
HB 969 currently says immediately. It would have to be amended to be a gradual decrease.
HB 659 allows for the State BOE to define all those things.