Members of the Georgia House and Senate education committees will hold a joint town hall meeting Tuesday at Georgia Regents University to gather input from the public on everything from budget cuts to classroom instruction.
It will be the eighth meeting of its kind held around the state this year, which House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, said is a new approach at outreach.
“This is the first time these meetings have been done,” he said. “For the first time that I can remember, we’ll have real current data actually coming from the users and practitioners out there.”
Coleman said lawmakers have so far heard from 150 superintendents, 200 board members and about 1,200 teachers and community members during the previous meetings. He said House and Senate members are going to present the suggestions and feedback gathered from the town halls to Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in a planning meeting for the upcoming legislative session.
According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, the Legislature has withheld $7.6 billion in funding to school districts since 2003. The shortfalls have led to furlough days across the state and less money for teacher training and classroom materials statewide.
The budget crunch, coupled with implementation of the Common Core State Standards and evolving accountability measures, have put unprecedented pressures on educators.
Coleman said the committees would like to hear suggestions for improvements and also overall concerns and worries on the issues.
“We decided we needed to go out and listen to school educators about what their concerns were,” Coleman said. “So we decided to go to them.”