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Petruzielo: More Funding Needed From State

The state has lost millions of dollars it was owed by the state over the last 10 years.

Over the last 10 years, the Cherokee County School District has lost $147 million in funding it's owed by the state under the Quality Basic Education formula. And, this year, the school system is expected to lose another $26.5 million.

"We're not talking about chopped liver here," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said during a work session with the Board of Education on Thursday evening. "This is not small change. And, if it's $26.5 million here, you can imagine what it is state-wide."

The QBE formula was created in 1985 as a way to solve the problem of inequality between rich and poor school districts following lawsuits filed in California and Texas.

"You still get to supplement a kid's education with local dollars but you don't have the problem where the rich kids have three times the amount of funding as the poor kids," Petruzielo said.

However, over the last 10 years, Petruzielo said state lawmakers have viewed QBE funding as "optional" as reductions in the dollars owed to local school systems -- called austerity cuts -- have occurred.

The state also has cut the money it sends to school systems for projects and other expenses. For example, Cherokee County schools get $2 million a year from the state for transportation, an expense that costs the district $17 million each year.

And, the school system gets only $8 million a year from the state for capital outlay projects, which Petruzielo said is enough to build one elementary school every three years. That's why the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is so important, the superintendent said.

"If we didn't build all the schools we have here, you'd have 4,000 kids in your high schools and 3,000 in your elementary schools," he said. "We'd be the trailer capitol of the world."

And, in addition to that, Cherokee County's digest has declined $30 million since 2008-2009 because of the economic downturn.

"The only way to deal with this crisis is to receive state dollars," Petruzielo said.

In the past 20 years, three different state study commissions were formed by Georgia governors and legislators to evaluate and reformulate the QBE formula, but no significant changes were recommended or implemented, Petruzielo said.

"It's almost laughable when this happens," the superintendent said.

In 2010, the State Education Finance Study Commission wrote in a summary report to the Governor that "QBE is a valid and appropriate vehicle for funding schools."

"I'm pretty sure that's not what the Governor wanted to hear," Petruzielo said.

And, now school system officials are looking at a new funding issue. If the fiscal cliff occurs, Petruzielo said the state will lose $38.8 million in Title 1 funding and $26.6 million in special needs dollars.

Locally, that amounts to $300,000 in lost money for every 5,000 students for a total of $2.4 million. These areas are where money is needed the most, Petruzielo said.

"These are the kids who are at risk," he said. "These are the kids who are farthest away from the target. These are the kids who need the most help."

Petruzielo said he thinks a lawsuit against the state regarding QBE funding is inevitable.

"I think it's just a matter of who's going to do it and when," he said. "Until the economy comes back, I think we have to work as cooperatively as we can."

Jim Beam December 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Christine, I seriously doubt any voter will have remorse over wanting to improve the nation's 48th-ranked educational state. And spare me the statistical obfuscation about the % of students who take the SAT test: Georgia is 10th of the 12 states that test at least 70% of their students. Given the complete disaster that is our traditional public school system - best seen with APS and the numerous other school & board scandals around the state - I doubt anyone will lose sleep over a single charter school's situation. Too bad public schools don't close when they fail...of course, if they did, there'd be very few schools remaining open in the metro area, including a # here in Cherokee County. Thanks to years of traditional-public-school neglect, we're in sorry shape with nowhere to go but up. In spite of the short-sighted greed and ignorance of the NO crowd, 'up' is where GA is headed. Did you enroll your children in a public school? If so, I hope they don't get treated like numerous students in this Atlanta PUBLIC school did: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/parents-of-special-needs-students-say-school-district-covered-up-abuse/ So much for the myth that traditional public schools are a great place to enroll special-needs children. Not sure of the veracity of your experience but at least your children didn't get physically abused by teachers the way the kids in that Atlanta PUBLIC school did. I'm sure that teacher got a raise.
Monty Brewster December 14, 2012 at 04:18 AM
So take your charters to Atlanta, where they may actually be needed. But oh..wait. Then it wouldn't be as profitable as the more affluent, better educated areas.
Christine Rea December 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Danny, I can assure you there will be people who will lose sleep over a single charter school's situation. It will be the parents who enroll/enrolled their child/children in a charter school, then realize said charter school is providing them a sub par education. These same parents are the voters that will have remorse. Regret that they were duped by ballot verbiage; and consequently their child/children are struggling. You wouldn't know anything about that though, your son never attended a charter school.
Mike payne February 13, 2013 at 02:55 PM
I have two kids at Cherokee Charter and feel blessed that if the school does not meet my expectations I can change schools. All you anti-charter people got blew out in the election, the people have spoken loud and clear. School choice is here and we are a better State for it.
No More Bullies February 13, 2013 at 04:05 PM
If you take a look at candidates who support charters or the amendment, and their respective elections, it is a TOTALLY different picture. Look at the photos from the bill-signing event for the amendment's legislation, held at Cherokee Charter: Chip Rogers- gone. Sean Jerguson- gone. Charlice Byrd- gone. Kim Cochran- gone. Danny Dukes- loser.

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