2013 Legislative Priorities
1. Empower the School Board to: restore a 180-day school calendar for students; reduce class size; and, eliminate employee unpaid furlough days ...by ending State "austerity budget cuts" and allocating to the School District all locally-earned funding under the statutorily-required Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act formula.
- Locally-earned Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula funding was fully provided to local school districts by the Georgia General Assembly for 15 years ...from the QBE Act being signed into State law by Governor Joe Frank Harris in 1985, with the first funds being distributed in 1986-87, until 2002.
- Since 2002, $147. 5M ($26.6M this year and $78. 6M over the past three years) of statutorily-required QBE funding earned by CCSD has been unilaterally withheld by the Governor and State Legislature through so-called "austerity budget cuts" ...during which time period CCSD student enrollment increased by 44% (12,000 students).
2. Develop and begin implementation of a statewide strategy for State Health Benefit Plan cost containment...rather than continuing to simply pass skyrocketing annual premium increases in this regard along to School Boards, teachers and other State employees.
- An employee insuring himself/herself will pay $204 more next year through the State Health Benefit Plan.
- An employee insuring himself/herself and a spouse will pay $396 in additional premiums next year for State health benefits.
- An employee insuring his/her family through the State Health Benefit Plan will pay $1,167 more in premiums in 2013.
- Additionally, CCSD insurance costs for non-certified employees are expected to increase from $7.5 Million in the current fiscal year to $12.7 Million in 2014-15.
3. Earmark State funding for continuation of teacher pay for performance incentives and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives established through Georgia participation in Race To The Top.. .when Federal funding in this regard ends in September of 2014.
- The approximate budget for STEM this year is $211,150. The amount CCSD was told by the State to set aside for performance pay next year (first year of bonuses) is $952,500.
- As CCSD continues to expand educational options for students and parents through our Cherokee Academies initiative, assistance from the Cherokee Legislative Delegation is needed to remove any State barriers that would impede establishment and development of a technical high school on the campus of the existing Teasley Middle School.
4. While we are extremely proud of our 2012 Senior Class, which posted the highest-ever ACT scores for the District and the highest school district average SAT scores in the State of Georgia, it must be noted that these students had a very different public school experience than the students entering kindergarten today. State "austerity budget cuts" to public education and ever-escalating unfunded/underfunded State mandates (e.g., transportation, special education, textbooks) are taking their toll; and the firm foundation of educational quality that was built for the Class of 2012 is slowly being eroded away due to legislative policies and actions that favor corporate tax exemptions, privatization efforts and creation of a dual school system... rather than meeting the commitment to fully fund public education through the statutorily-required QBE formula.
- When the Class of 2012 entered kindergarten in fall of 1999, the average kindergarten class had 16 students with one teacher and one full-time paraprofessional. Today's kindergartners have as many as 24 classmates and share a paraprofessional with another class.
- The Class of 2012 had school calendars of 180 days for the first 10 years they were enrolled. Today, two-thirds of Georgia school districts have cut instructional days due to budget pressures; and at the current rate, the Class of 2022, a decade later, will be shorted by 50 days of instruction- 10 full weeks.
- The Class of 2012 had more high school courses to choose from, with fewer students in those classes.
- The Class of 2012 had Graduation Coaches for their critical 8th, 9th and 10th-grade years. Today, there are no graduation coaches for any grade levels.
- Today's students are using textbooks from the 2003-04 textbook adoption, including high school English Language Arts and Foreign Language. Current Social Studies, Fine Arts and Health/Physical Education textbooks for all grades, K-12, were newly published and purchased in 2005.
- The teachers for the Class of 2012 were not under the stress of having eight unpaid furlough days and skyrocketing healthcare costs... taking literally thousands of dollars out of their paychecks.
- The Class of 2012 had shorter bus rides and wait times to and from school. Today's students ride more crowded buses on longer routes ...resulting from implementation of cost savings through consolidation.
- The Class of 2012 had a school nurse, sometimes two at larger schools, who worked a full day, rather than the abbreviated schedule many nurses are on now.