The Clarke County Board of Education is calling on the state to invest more money in education as the legislature convenes in Atlanta, including raises in teacher pay and more funding for pre-K programs.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year does not include raises for teachers or state employees.
In a resolution listing seven legislative priorities the board adopted in a meeting last week, the board also called on legislators to “strive to return the HOPE Scholarship to its original mission of supporting historically marginalized students in college.”
When HOPE was initially conceived and approved, the scholarship had an income limit, with the aim that students from wealthier families who could afford college costs without it wouldn’t be eligible for the lottery-funded scholarship.
Legislators should also take steps to ensure that all children have access to pre-kindergarten education and that pre-K staff should be paid more, board members said.
The board asked Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means to have the list posted on the school district’s newly redesigned website.
The school district faced budget deficits in recent years, dipping into reserves “because the state hasn’t been doing its job,” Means said.
The board should also encourage federal legislators to maintain so-called “title” programs such as a Title I, a federal program that gives additional funds to improve students’ academic prospects in high-poverty schools districts such as Clarke County.
Board members approved the resolution after a lengthy discussion, mainly elaborating on the points made in the document rather than debating them.
The No. 1 priority is legislation that addresses the recruitment and retention of teachers, said board member Greg Davis, chair of the board’s governmental affairs committee, which wrote the resolution board members adopted Thursday evening.
“Where the rubber meets the road in terms of the education of our children is our teachers,” he said.
The resolution also calls on legislators to remove barriers for immigrant children who were raised in Georgia and want to enroll in college or technical school, including removing a ban on undocumented students at Georgia’s top colleges and eliminating a requirement at other state schools that they pay an out-of-state tuition rate — much higher than the in-state rate — even though they may have spent their entire lives in Georgia.
The resolution calls on the state to “adjust school and school district state funding to reflect the true cost of educating children,” including restoring “austerity cuts” legislators imposed to balance the budget during the recession, according to the document. This restoration would also include ending a state program which helps fund private schools through tax deductions.
Other points in the resolution include:
• The state should reduce student-teacher ratios “in schools and school systems where the challenges of teaching are the greatest.”
• The state should also put greater emphasis on career, technical and agricultural education — so-called CTAE, according to the resolution.