Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Georgia School Board Association Warns of More Cuts to Come.

The Georgia School Boards Association warned local school officials of more state budget cuts .

According to the GSBA, there will be a larger cut in state funding than originally predicted, and school boards need to be ready to make tough budgeting decisions.

In addition to holding back funds, the governor is also changing the method of disbursement in monthly allotments to school boards. According to the GSBA, the governor will disburse $367 million less than originally anticipated, resulting in some difficult choices.

To reduce the cost of travel to various meetings, the GSBA presented an informational Webinar via conference call and PowerPoint to school boards throughout the state of Georgia. More than one hundred people participated.

The 2009 GSBA information session addressed budget issues, legislative initiatives and outstanding tax bills.

Though Gov. Sonny Perdue recently withheld funds by executive order, the process of working out a budget remains very much alive, as the budget is ultimately set by the General Assembly. Additional cuts in funding are expected, Wayne County’s Board of Education and school superintendent were told.

The GSBA encouraged school boards to modify their work and student calendars and salary supplements in addition to considering a reduction in force.

As the school boards had already signed contracts with teachers prior to the governor’s decision, the teachers cannot be forced to take furloughs, but the work calendar can be modified.

The GSBA encouraged the school boards to honor the contracts, using the language already in the existing contracts, in addition to clearly communicating with staff, parents and the community about the necessary alterations.

New legislation anticipated for 2010 includes responses to bullying, CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Tests) cheating and abuse in educational settings. The GSBA supports the laws already in force, fearing that more legislation will only complicate matters.

The GSBA also opposed the proposed legislation of HB 480 and HB 483, the car tax and the state homestead exemption, which have already passed the House and are waiting to be voted on in the Senate.

The proposed car tax would replace the ad valorem tax with a one-time 7 percent tax at the time of purchase. The GSBA feels this is problematic, as it would be difficult to determine the value of resale vehicles.

The state homestead exemption is proposed in addition to the already-existing local exemption, which would increase each year.

A representative of the GSBA said, “These outstanding tax bills put a hole in the revenue stream of some school districts that some millage rates might not make up.”

Legislation supported by the GSBA includes SB 206, an in-house appropriations-tax expenditure report; SB 167, exempting school buses from the motor vehicle tax; SB 453, comprehensive tax reform; and HR 442, a study committee for capital-outlay extension.

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