When schools are on the hook for the bad decisions made by politicians, it’s always the students who pay.
Through an archaic tax law, Fulton County was able to freeze property values where they were in 2016. Although this is good news for residents who argued their 2017 valuation was too high, it’s crippling to the school system that depends on Fulton tax revenue to function. Fulton’s tax revenue makes up 62.5 percent of Atlanta’s $777 million operating budget.
Because of the tax freeze, Atlanta Public Schools currently has only enough money to pay bills and staff for another month. This is even after getting a $100 million loan last month. The school district was counting on the 2017 increase to be able to pay staff, buy books, and you know, keep the lights on.
“I’m just being as direct as possible: This is so much bigger than the superintendent, the school board…Let me be clear, we have to furlough the entire staff because we will probably have maybe one more month to be able to pay our bills and our staff and then we’ll have to stop until something else happens which at the earliest would be January,” said Meria Carstarphen, APS Superintendent.
Because of this decision to freeze taxes, not only will staff be furloughed and schools be closed, but APS is now over $100 million in debt, including the $470,000 in loan interest and fees that must be repaid by the end of the year.
The sad thing is this is not the first time Georgia’s children have had to pay for adult’s mistakes this year, it isn’t even the second. Back in June, The Augusta Chronicle discovered that Georgia Power was charging schools as much as $9,000 extra per month to subsidize the cost of their nuclear construction.
Also, because of Deal’s Recession-era cuts, many schools in Georgia are turning to furloughing teachers just to keep their doors open.
This is a pattern in Georgia: Politicians shout about the importance of education but expect it to happen without money to pay for staff and supplies. We can’t keep expecting our education system to get better if we keep depriving it of funding.