It’s no secret that Gov. Nathan Deal has chronically under-funded Georgia public education for the majority of his time in office.
Teachers are underpaid, arts and music programs were cut and until very recently, some schools couldn’t afford to stay open for the full school year. Transportation to and from school is no exception to the gross undervaluation of our schools by conservative lawmakers.
A number of school systems are still not receiving the resources they need to safely provide transportation to their students.
In fact, a recent report from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute found that our lawmakers aren’t approving funds laid out by state’s own formula: “The state’s funding formula called for sending $302 million to districts [for transportation] in 2017, but instead the legislature approved just $130 million.”
That’s less than half of what was called for.
That’s just not good enough.
Gainesville officials haven’t been able to buy a new bus since 2014, when it last received a whopping four buses.
Instead, students are forced to go to and from school everyday on aging buses — some Gainesville students are riding in buses that were manufactured in the late 1980s.
As student numbers and transportation costs continue to rise, the lack of funding is only going to put more students and staff members at risk.
What’s more, Deal’s education cuts don’t stop at the buses — he’s targeted the bus drivers themselves. For years, Deal made it his mission to attack bus drivers by eliminating their health insurance — a direct attack on the people who work for low wages but have the all-important job of keeping Georgia students safe.
In order to invest in our students, we must invest in teachers AND staff.
Our students need employees who have the full resources to do their jobs safely and effectively, and Deal has insisted on blocking that every step of the way.
But this year, Deal is on his way out, and we can push for more funding for education in Georgia at the ballot box this year.
Make it clear that any candidate who wants to win an election in 2018 needs to prioritize our schools, students, teachers and staff.