Despite wanting to be known for improving education, Gov. Nathan Deal has cut $9.2 billion in education funding since 2003. He has tasked himself with creating takeover plan after takeover plan to reform schools, but all he really has to do to make improvements is stop cutting funding.
He drains our public schools of the money they need to pay teachers and provide transportation and labels them “failing.” He creates plans where once schools are “failing” he can take them over and hand them off to his friends at for-profit, out-of-state corporations.
Deal’s budget for the 2018-2019 school year calls for districts to get $166 million less than the amount calculated by the state’s own school funding formula. This leaves school districts unable to hire teachers and reduce class sizes or to offer key supports for students.
The state also made changes to school district employees’ health care that will increase the cost, but will not help districts pay. The changes added over $400 million to the district’s health care costs in the 2017 fiscal year and will add another $30 million in the 2018 fiscal year.
These cuts to district budgets are coming after years of many schools in Georgia turning to furloughing teachers just to keep their doors open. School districts, especially in rural areas, cannot keep up with state’s decreasing funding.
Some school districts, such as Clarke County, are starting to push back. The Clarke County Board of Education adopted a resolution listing seven legislative priorities and is calling on the state to invest more money into education.
Deal’s budget cuts sent Clarke County School District into budget deficits in recent years “because the state hasn’t been doing its job,” according to CCSD Superintendent Demond Means.
More districts should put pressure on Deal and Georgia’s Department of Education. Deal can’t keep sucking the lifeblood out of schools then taking them over when they “fail”.