Originally created 12/16/05

School officials make requests

Local school officials met with state legislators to lobby for money and legislative support before the General Assembly reconvenes.

During the annual legislative breakfast Thursday morning, Richmond County school officials presented more than 30 requests to the local legislative delegation.

Many of those requests are for more funding for personnel, while others focused on school safety and instruction.

Among the school board's priorities is a request for a 5 percent raise for all school employees, a request that controller Gene Spires estimated would cost the state $13.5 million for Richmond County alone.

After years of state funding cuts to education that have cost Richmond County more than $28 million, state Sen. Ed Tarver, D-Augusta, said the economic outlook for Georgia looks good. It's just a matter of where to shift the additional revenue.

Richmond County school officials also are seeking funding for data entry personnel, bus monitors, nurses, lead teachers, paraprofessionals and art, music and PE teachers.

"We hope that the revenue of the state of Georgia has increased so we can provide some additional funding," state Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta, said, adding that he supports the 5 percent raise for educators.

Mr. Murphy said one of the first things he'll do when legislators reconvene is look to see whether adjustments can be made to the budget to benefit education.

Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, said Tuesday, however, not to expect a large surplus or many raises.

Superintendent Charles Larke pointed to legislative requests that wouldn't cost more money.

It's a "shame" that a state agency isn't following the law, Dr. Larke said, calling for the state school board to end high school graduation tests for social studies and science.

According to Georgia law, the tests would continue "until all high school core subject end-of-course assessments have been developed and implemented."

That has happened, yet the graduation tests continue, he said.

Dr. Larke also asked legislators to amend the state law which allows retired educators to return to the classroom. The law shouldn't prevent teachers who retired after Dec. 31, 2003, from going back to teaching and shouldn't prevent teachers from returning to the schools they retired from.

Richmond County has teaching vacancies that could be filled by these retirees, but instead they choose to work in Aiken County, Dr. Larke said.

Having listened to the concerns of school officials, Mr. Tarver said it will be a matter of seeing how their priorities align with the priorities of the General Assembly.

Walter Jones of Morris News Service contributed to this story.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

Legislative priorities

Among the Richmond County Board of Education's legislative priorities are the following:

- A 5 percent raise for all school employees

- No legislation without an explanation of its budgetary impact on local school systems and other government agencies

- Funding for data-entry personnel, bus monitors, full-time nurses, full-time instructional lead teachers for every 450 elementary pupils and all middle schools, and full-time paraprofessionals for all elementary classrooms and all core academic middle school classrooms

- Rollback the required reduction in class size

- Duty-free lunches for teachers

- Increasing the distance registered sex offenders live from school from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet

- Changing the retirement rules so teachers who retired after Dec. 31, 2003 can return to the classroom

Source: Richmond County Board of Education


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