** Education Update **
As Day 11 approaches, Tuesday, February 5th, action on the education front has already taken place.
The House and Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittees met to review the Amended FY 08 and FY 09 budgets. Highlights from the joint hearing included a presentation by State Superintendent Kathy Cox.
55.4% of the Governor’s FY 09 budget, or $11.8 billion, has been earmarked for education.
· The top goals that came out of an education agency heads meeting are to 1) Increase the graduation rate; 2) Decrease the dropout rate; and 3) Increase college/post secondary enrollment. Thus, money allocated in both the 08 and 09 budgets is geared toward the graduation rate.
· Three key components are to: 1) Raise expectations of students; 2) Support students and teachers; 3) Give children more options for learning.
· Funds have been put in place to enhance Georgia’s math programs, much in the same way the DOE and Governor tackled science programs several years ago.
· $40 million in the amended 08 budget will go straight to school systems for technology improvements.
· $14.2 million has been added in the 09 budget for the Governor’s VIP – Very Important Parents – Program which, creating parent liaisons for Title I schools and other schools struggling with low attendance.
· $330,000 in the 09 budget will go toward beginning a “Mentor Teacher Program”, a program the Governor hopes will keep new teachers in the schools; Master Teachers will be used as mentors.
· There is $12 million in the 09 budget to continue the programs offered by RESAs.
· $159 million in the 09 budget goes to teacher pay raises – including a 2.5% general increase to be effective January 1, 2009.
· The Gift Card program will be continued, totaling $11.5 million. A $100 card will be given to every teacher and media center to be used during the tax free holiday in 2008.
As always with any pending legislation, including the budgets, stay tuned for changes that may occur along the way. The House and Senate subcommittees have already held separate meetings, and have begun making adjustments to the supplemental 08 budget.
Legislation Assigned to House Education Committee
House Education – Academic Achievement Subcommittee – David Casas (R – Lilburn), Chair
House Education – Academic Support Subcommittee – Howard Maxwell (R -Dallas), Chair
Charter School Legislation on the Move
On Thursday, January 31st the House passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Jan Jones (R – Alpharetta), Chair of the House Appropriations Education Subcommittee, that would establish a Georgia Charter Schools Commission. A House subcommittee met over the summer and fall to hear testimony on this highly controversial bill. The legislation is now assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee, where we expect it will also pass, moving to the Senate floor for a vote later this session.
More action is sure to happen later this week. Let us know if you have any questions or if you need further information on other education related issues. Otherwise, stay tuned…