That is why the board is getting an early start in compiling an “education wish list” for the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly, scheduled to convene Jan. 13. Although board chairwoman Janet Kelley said the board’s list of education issues it will discuss with lawmakers is still being “worked on” with nothing yet finalized, she hopes the board can meet with Douglas County lawmakers to discuss its priorities before the holiday season begins which is, traditionally, immediately after Thanksgiving.
“The board is still batting around numerous issues we want to discuss with our lawmakers but we have a couple that continue to be among some of our top concerns,” she said.
One of these is austerity cuts in education funding statewide.
In Douglas County, Kelly said these cuts have cost the county more than $113 million since 2002 with approximately $82 million of that since 2010.
“We are asking that there be no austerity cuts taken from school system budgets in 2014,” Kelley said.
Another drain on school system budgets statewide has been the issuance of unfunded school mandates. Kelley said this issue will also be among those the board will discuss with its lawmakers prior to the upcoming session.
Unfunded mandates are directives from the Georgia Board of Education and Legislature to school systems which instruct them to implement changes to curriculums or other school-related areas, but do not include funding for such implementation.
“Although austerity cuts constitute the greatest drain to our budget here in Douglas County, unfunded mandates also hurt us financially,” Kelley said.
“What we want is for such directives to come to us with the funding attached to implement them,” she said.