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Georgia spending less on schools, group says

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Georgia lawmakers have drastically cut per-student state funding for education not just in the past few years of economic decline, but for the past decade, according to a new analysis by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

The state has cut funding to the University System of Georgia by 19.8 percent since 2009, and slashed spending on the state technical college system by 11 percent in the same time period, according to the Atlanta-based think tank. During the same period, the state has cut spending on K-12 public education by 12.5 percent, and slashed prekindergarten spending by 11.4 percent, according to reports by GBPI analyst Cedric Johnson.

But the GBPI analysis notes that, when inflation and enrollment increases are taken into consideration, state spending on both K-12 and higher education has been on the decline since 2001.

“Serving more with less is not a recent phenomenon resulting from the Great Recession, but rather an ongoing, decade-long trend,” Johnson wrote.

Adjusted for inflation, per-student state appropriations for higher education have declined by 58 percent over the past decade – while the average increase in tuition and mandatory fees paid by students and their families is 92 percent, according to GBPI.

Just since 2009, the state has cut appropriations for the University System of Georgia down from $2.3 billion to about $1.7 billion. Next year the total goes up to $1.8 billion, but that’s still far below the 2009 total, according to the GBPI analysis.

Just as college students and parents now have to pay a higher share of the costs of higher education, local property taxpayers are footing more of the bill for K-12 education, Johnson said.

In 2001, the state paid about a 60 percent share of K-12 education costs statewide, and local taxes accounted for 40 percent; by 2010, the state share had declined to 50 percent, while the local tax burden had increased by 10 percent, according to the report.

More shifts to local taxpayers are on the way, Johnson wrote. Over the next three years, state officials plan to transfer much of the cost of health insurance for non-certified workers such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers from state sources to local boards of education, he said.

The legislature and Gov. Nathan Deal approved a modest increase in the K-12 education budgets for 2012-13, appropriating about $7.17 billion in state funds – up 1.3 percent from this year’s appropriation.

That translates to about $7,976 per pupil – but adjusted for inflation, that’s actually less than the $6,405 per pupil the state provided in 2001, Johnson said.

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Little Lamb
Little Lamb 05/21/12 - 02:05 pm
$16,000 per

From the last four paragraphs we read that the state pays 50% of the school expenses, and that amounts to $8,000 per student. If you throw in the 50% from local taxpayers, that comes to $16,000 per year per student for K-12 education.

That sounds high enough to me.

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 05/21/12 - 03:39 pm
ONLY $16K/student/annum

Little Lamb,

That $16K figure's in the range I've estimated.

But equally relevant issues at this juncture include:

How is this much money being spent($14B/annum)?

When's the last time that each GA local- and state-level public educational agency(PEA) underwent financial, personnel and student-improvement audits conducted by competent, disinterested, out-of-state entities?

How efficient and effective is each such agency(PEA)?

socks99 05/21/12 - 05:11 pm
Unfortunately, the editor may

Unfortunately, the editor may have been fooled by this deliberately misleading "news" concerning education funding in GA.

In sum, except for some shrinkage associated with the recent financial crisis and falling property tax revenues, total taxpayer funding (local, state, federal) has risen dramatically since 2001. In fact, a longer look back will show steady increases in funding for education by taxpayers.

Local funding, based on property taxes, saw a dramatic rise particularly during the early 2000's due to the housing bubble; this funding did outpace and replace state funding, but the overall amount of taxpayer subsides increased and did not decrease.

News stories such as this one mislead the public and might even interfere in policy adjustments needed to bring education spending in line with funding.

itsanotherday1 05/21/12 - 10:21 pm
Too bad classroom funding is

Too bad classroom funding is taking the brunt of the cuts instead of the top heavy administrative people.

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