A presentation given by Superintendent Scarlett Copeland at the Appling County Board of Education work session meeting, held Monday, Feb. 13, was an eye-opener. Copeland showed how state funding for education continues to dwindle.
The biggest revelation came when Copeland showed the average for state versus local funding for educating children in Appling County and how the ratio has changed over the last few years. At one point the ratio for funding education in Appling was 60 percent state compared to 40 percent local. Today, that average is closer to 46 percent state funded compared to 54 percent locally funded.
If that is not enough to make one question what the state legislature is thinking, word has been sent down that the local board of education could be faced with over $1,000,000.00 in additional cuts this year.
In 2008 the Appling County Board of Education approved a record budget of $30,853,269.82. This year’s budget has been cut and trimmed to $25,810.396.19. That’s over $5,000,000.00 in cuts in four years and now the state is forecasting another million-plus for the upcoming budget cycle? It’s getting to a point that local school officials are asking, “Cut? From where?”
Another alternative that would be available to the board (besides cutting staff and programs) would be to increase property taxes. However, this is not a popular option as the entity increased property taxes in 2010 to 15 mills (from 14.67 mills) to offset the sluggish economy and state cuts. To make up for the lost one million dollars in state funding, the board would have to increase the local millage rate by approximately one and a half mills bringing the board tax to around 16.5 mills.
Month after month this newspaper receives news releases from the state on how state revenue is gaining momentum, yet more cuts have to be made to education? I guess 2+2=3 in the state’s eyes?
I will say that when the state’s economy started to falter in 2008 and 2009, the governor and legislature held off on making cuts to education. Many state agencies felt the impact before education was even a consideration under the Gold Dome. However, once the state started making cuts to education, the floodgates opened and the cuts have been relentless. Maybe it was because there was not very much push back from citizens or teacher organizations, but in this reporter’s opinion it’s time to contact our legislators and let them know that we can’t afford more cuts to education.
Our children’s futures can’t afford more cuts and property owners can’t afford to carry more and more of the load.
Please consider contacting State Senator Tommie Williams or State Representative Tommy Smith and ask them to find ways to, at the very least, fully fund the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Formula. The QBE allotment is outdated and is currently being funded by the state at only 80 – 82 percent.
- Tommie Williams can be reached at (404) 656-0089, (912) 526-7444 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tommy Smith can be reached at (404) 656-5105, (912) 632-0001 or via email at email@example.com.