Ga. panel considers easing school regulations

ATLANTA -- A dozen laws would be eliminated or relaxed under recommendations approved Tuesday by a subcommittee of the State Education Finance Study Commission.

The major task of the commission is still ahead, revising the formula in state law for how schools are funded. The chairman of the House and Senate appropriations committees have that assignment and are expected to begin public meetings later this summer.

They’ll make the year-end deadline, promised Rep. Brooks Coleman, chairman of the House Education Committee and overall chairman of the school-funding commission. In the meantime, Gov. Nathan Deal is getting regular updates because in August he’ll begin assembling his budget for the next fiscal year.

“Yeah, he knows what we’re doing,” said Coleman, R-Duluth.

Since the current funding formula became law in the 1980s, it’s never gotten full funding from the General Assembly. At the same time, lawmakers have added other programs like nurses, graduation coaches and elementary counselors that are funded separately from the formula.

Local administrators and education advocates have long called for revision of the formula to include the additions and for higher overall funding.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a commission subcommittee of legislators, educators and private citizens approved recommendations from the Georgia Department of Education on law changes regarding charter schools, school-board removal and the posting of teacher vacancies. Last year, the General Assembly repealed 33 laws the commission requested at the suggestion of staffers.

Department staffers either recommended repeal or relaxed provisions. For example, a requirement to send vacancy notices to the department is outdated with the advance of the Internet. And the mandate for the state Board of Education to hold a hearing on the removal of a local board within 30 days of its accreditation suspension should be tripled to allow local officials to respond, they said Tuesday.

Lawmakers on the subcommittee nixed consideration of a wording change regarding Student Scholarship Organizations because they said Deal was drafting his own legislation.

“I’m telling you, this is part of a bigger issue,” said Sen. Fran Millar, a Dunwoody Republican who chairs the Senate Education & Youth Committee. “I would put this off to the side.”

The law allows companies to get an income-tax credit for contributing to scholarships for private schools. Lawmakers intended to donations to benefit low-income families, but Youtube and others readily provide advice on how to skirt prohibitions so business owners’ children get the scholarships.

More

Applications open for magnet schools

Program applications for magnet schools in the Richmond County school system will be available today for the 2017-18 school year.

... Read more

Columbia County student arrested in bomb threat

A Columbia County student was arrested Monday after making a bomb threat, police said

About 10:50 a.m., deputies... Read more