www.gae.org | 11 mean the 2015 supplemental budget should hold some funding benefits with the budget projections coming in higher than estimated. As GR Director, my worry is the legislature will not look to fully fund the QBE formula as it currently exists, but will back into funding, identifying the current levels as the base. Our efforts in 2013 and 2014 to highlight the loss of school days for children will have to continue. Just last month the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute reported “Schools across Georgia continue to scramble to meet students’ needs as they cope with years of deep cuts in state funding. A new Georgia Budget and Policy Institute survey of school systems finds districts raised class sizes and cut instructional programs in response to state cuts. A modest increase of $314 million in state funding for the 2014-2015 school year offers a small measure of relief to districts. That increase is dwarfed by the $8.4 billion in austerity cuts the state imposed since 2003. Most districts are still making painful sacrifices to compensate for lost funding in the current school year. Forty-nine districts, or nearly 33% of participating districts, report this year’s school calendar is less than the standard 180 days. • 127 districts, or 85% of respondents, have larger class sizes than in the 2009-2010 school year. • Sixty-one districts say they will furlough teachers this year. • 29 districts say they will increase teachers’ salary for the 2014-2015 school year. • 66 districts, about 46% of participating districts, cut or eliminated art and music programs since 2009. (Two-thirds of these districts have not restored these programs.) • 102 districts, or 72 % of responding districts, increased property taxes, called millage rates, from 2009 to 2015. The average rate rose from 15.3 to 16.6 mills in this period. Other items on the legislative docket include: • Legislation for Parent Trigger (NOTE: GAE has defeated such legislative attempts for three years running), • Legislative attempts to expand virtual school funding without state oversight, • Proposed legislation from Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) to submit his annual bill to increase the Tax Credit for Private School Scholarships from $58 million to $100 million; • Legislation to allow privately operated charter schools to take over public school property if not in use even if being renovated and planned for. • Legislation to change TRS or to form a committee to review TRS. GAE’s legislative agenda will include: • Propose legislation to reduce Toxic Testing • Propose legislation for minimum requirement of 180 days of instruction for all school operation models • Propose legislation to limit or eliminate class size waivers • Propose legislation to fully fund public schools, eliminating the need for furloughs and/or salary reductions. • Propose legislation to provide secure and safe public schools. • Propose legislation to fully staff all public schools and programs. We look forward to GAE members being fully engaged at the legislature in 2015 as we work on behalf of great public schools in Georgia.
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