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Good news for our public schools
Guest column
Amy Muprhy NEW
Amy Murphy, a former member of the Bryan County school board, is running unopposed for school board chairwoman. - photo by File photo

We should always take time to stop and celebrate good news regarding Georgia’s public education. In Bryan County, we take great pride in our schools. The community and parental support and involvement is unparalleled. As parents we want the best education for our children. As community stakeholders, we all understand that strong public schools are the backbone of Bryan County’s success as a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.

Thus it feels important to celebrate a recent surprise move in the Georgia budget for 2019. Gov. Deal increased the 2019 revenue predictions for Georgia by almost $200 million. $167 million of that increase will go directly to K-12 education. For the first time in 16 years the Georgia Department of Education’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula will be fully funded.

QBE was started in 1985 and it is a somewhat complex formula regarding how state monies are allocated to local school systems. This formula was adopted as an attempt to equalize rural, suburban and urban school districts; to level the financial playing field for all districts.

Austerity cuts in Georgia began in 2003 when school funding across the state was cut by more than $8 billion, including annual cuts of $1 billion from 2010-2014. Bryan County, in particular, has lost over $38 million of state funding since 2003. In the last couple of years the state has begun to slowly increase public school funding and reduce the size of the austerity cuts that school systems faced. But the QBE formula, the basis for determining the state’s share of funding for school systems, was still about $167 million underfunded.

Gov. Deal recently announced, "The addition of $167 million to K-12 education will bring total funding for education to $9.6 billion. This investment will give local school systems the opportunity to provide the programs necessary to improve struggling schools and enhance student performance. During my time as governor, I have consistently heard from educators who have cited a lack of funding as a barrier to achieving success in their classroom. This additional $167 million will ensure the state is fully doing its financial part to address their concerns. Finally, fully funding QBE provides a stronger foundation to lawmakers and stakeholders to reform this outdated formula to accommodate the needs of today’s students and 21st-century classrooms."

Unfortunately lost revenues will never be refunded to the district and the 2018 austerity reduction in Bryan County was $835,392. However, this positive change in the 2019 budget will bring state allocation money back to Bryan County Schools’ budget. Fully funding the QBE formula for school systems is certainly good news for public education in Georgia and good news to celebrate for Bryan County.

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