Schools want cash, flexibility

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Likely facing more state funding cuts next year, Richmond County school officials want greater control of the money they do receive.

This week, the school board adopted its 2010 legislative priorities that it will present to local delegation members. At the top of the list is both a call for the state to allow more spending flexibility, as well as opposition to any legislative efforts that might limit local school board authority.

The school board is now restricted from using sales tax collections for general operation costs. Such funds must go to capital improvements. Flexibility in spending any future sales tax proposals for operational costs would help offset some budget cuts, school officials said.

"RCSS supports flexibility in spending so the local boards and superintendents can target expenditures effectively and efficiently based on their community's needs rather than according to state rules and expenditure controls," the board's priority list states.

The list also notes previous attempts to mandate a school starting date, as well as "patch work" laws on discipline.

The board also is supportive of efforts by the Georgia School Boards Association to address what it states is the need for "fair" education funding from the state for the upcoming 2010 legislative session, set to start in January.

The Richmond County school system has faced $70 million in cuts over the past three years.

According to the school system, the state funds only about 15 percent of the total cost of sick leave for all employees. The state also funds less than a third of textbook costs.

The GSBA plans to push for greater state funding in the 2010 legislative session, noting that the share of education funding by the state versus local has shifted since the Quality Basic Education Act was adopted in 1985. When the QBE Act was passed, Don Rooks, the director of legislative services for the GSBA, said there was an understanding that 80 percent of education funding would come from the state and 20 percent would be local. After many years of state funds not being adjusted to meet inflation and the past several years of budget cuts, Mr. Rooks said statewide education funding now averages 60 percent state and 40 percent local. In some cases, the share has even tipped to 60 percent local and 40 percent state.

"Across the state, the message has been to increase millage or lay off people or use reserves, and in many, many, many cases, it's been all three," he said.

Mr. Rooks said the GSBA has been asking local school boards to ask their area legislators to push for greater education funding in the coming session.

"What we're saying is let's move upward from where we are now so that so much of the burden doesn't fall back to, in your case, Richmond County," he said.

The GSBA plans to present its own list of legislative priorities, including a call for more education funding, to all legislators at the start of the January session. The association also will urge that all bills include a fiscal note stating what budgetary impact a bill might have on local schools.

At a recent school board retreat meeting, Richmond County schools Superintendent Dana Bedden said three candidates for governor had already visited him, and "everybody is making education a hot platform."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (27) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/18/09 - 08:27 am
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Past planning for rainy days

Past planning for rainy days (apt metaphor today) was lacking. The stadiums that cost tens of millions may end up like empty ancient ruins. The county can barely fund for uniforms, coaches and utilities. Cracked roads, like the Appian Way leading to stadiums inhabited by wildlife as the unkempt fields have pine trees starting to grow is the future.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/18/09 - 08:36 am
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But, Riverman, they had to

But, Riverman, they had to spend the sales tax money on "capital improvements." They are not building schools and the buses are new and shiny, so building football stadiums all over the county was the easiest and fastest way to spend the sales tax money. They never considered rolling back the taxes.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/18/09 - 08:38 am
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Look at Bedden's whine about

Look at Bedden's whine about the state funding "only" 15 percent of sick leave pay for ALL employees. They should eliminate sick pay entirely and cut staff by 15 percent. The increased attendance at work would make up for the staff cuts.

Little Lamb
49041
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Little Lamb 12/18/09 - 08:39 am
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And Bedden whines about the

And Bedden whines about the state paying "only" a third of textbook costs. If they would buy simple textbooks without all those worthless color pictures and with paperbacks instead of hardbacks, they could save millions. And the poor children's book bags wouldn't be so heavy.

scoobynews
3896
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scoobynews 12/18/09 - 08:46 am
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Jealous Little Lamb? Do you

Jealous Little Lamb? Do you not get sick leave where you work? Don't knock those that do. Most employers offer sick leave to their employees. If your job doesn't offer it then stop whining and get one that does instead of knocking it for those that do.

scoobynews
3896
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scoobynews 12/18/09 - 08:48 am
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Common sense would tell you

Common sense would tell you that paperbacks don't last as long as hardbacks which would mean more money spend on replacement cost later.

disssman
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disssman 12/18/09 - 08:52 am
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LIttlelamb it may surprise

LIttlelamb it may surprise you that today rainy and miserable, my son is off to school with text books in hand for a 1 mile walk. The problem is he isn't allowed a book bag to keep those text books and his note books and pencils etc. in. Consequently, the books that should last 6 years are replaced every year. And who decided to forbid book bags? Why it wasn't the BOE, no it was the principal. Given that we haven't got a policy on book bags for the entire county, it dosen't surprise me that the state refuses to replace the cost of books every year.

Riverman1
93693
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Riverman1 12/18/09 - 09:15 am
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Little Lamb, love it. You

Little Lamb, love it. You could manage my checking account any day.

cleanup
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cleanup 12/18/09 - 10:01 am
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disssman, textbooks aren't

disssman, textbooks aren't replaced every year. Try approximately every SEVEN years, which is why so many of them are already beyond use.

cleanup
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cleanup 12/18/09 - 10:03 am
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As incompetent the state is,

As incompetent the state is, it's better than Bedden and the crew of loonies on the Board. If anything, power needs to be taken away from these fools. They couldn't manage a lemonade stand, much less a school system.

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 12/18/09 - 10:14 am
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Littlelamb, You want teachers

Littlelamb, You want teachers sick with the flu (and who knows what else) to drag themselves into work so that they can infect the children they teach, who will then go on to infect their other teachers, classmates, siblings, and parents. Ye-ah, sounds like that will improve attendance...for everyone.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/18/09 - 10:30 am
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Emergencyfan, I took up for

Emergencyfan, I took up for the teachers vociferously about the fridges in the rooms, but sick leave is abused bigtime and we both know it. It needs to be reeled in.

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 12/18/09 - 10:45 am
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River, You might want to

River, You might want to reread the posts. Littlelamb wants to eliminate ALL days and that was to whom my comment was directed. There will always abusers in any system. Should all teachers be required to go into work no matter how ill they are because some teachers abuse the system? I think not.

Riverman1
93693
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Riverman1 12/18/09 - 11:35 am
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There are many businesses

There are many businesses that do not pay any sick leave. Their absentee rates are much lower. Again, I'm not trying to pick on teachers because I think they are underpaid and overworked professionals who deserve many benefits, but the whole concept of paid sick leave whenever you want a day off leads to abuse.

Riverman1
93693
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Riverman1 12/18/09 - 11:37 am
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Sure it's extreme, but the

Sure it's extreme, but the fact is we are out of money. Ask a teacher looking for a job if she would take a deal without paid sick leave and I'm sure she would agree. Anyway, understand this is a hypothetical conversation.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/18/09 - 11:43 am
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ms. can you want more

ms. can you want more flexibility??? to do what??? spend more money on stadiums/b-ball gymnasiums for school that consistantly fail to meet ayp??? if anything you and the other board members need LESS flexibility....with low graduation rates, test scores and all high schools except johnson/davidson failing to meet ayp, and the county having the 6th highest dropout rates of black males (percentage wise) in the ENTIRE country...this is asinine...until graduation rates reach and remain steady at 75-85% there should be NO extra curricular activities-outside of being directly related to the education process(chess clubs, math clubs, economic clubs...etc). under no circumstances should ther be a shortage of textbooks!!! but here in richmond county(where ms. cain, you think everything is perfect in shang-ra-la) the priority is the "ALL-MIGHTY-GOD" FOOTBALL ON FRIDAY NIGHTS...even at the expense of educating the children, when the money runs out you then tax the homeowners more, layoff teachers, parapros and/or busdrivers but flat out refuse to impliment the learning model at davidson/johnson or cut back on any sports programs or suspend building new athletic venues!!!!

scoobynews
3896
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scoobynews 12/18/09 - 12:47 pm
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This is once again proof that

This is once again proof that teachers are not viewed as professionals who got the proper certification and education in order to have a job that provided sick leave. Those of you who think it should be eliminated would be singing a different tune if you were getting it. Is anyone complaining about soldiers getting a two week paid vacation? None of you have the guts too because you KNOW you would be WRONG to do so. Teacher's do not get paid vacations - summer breaks are NOT vacation pay. It is from having a salary spread over 12 months. All of you have choices - you choose to work for companies for various reasons and I am sure benefits is one of of those reasons. One thing I do always notice is that teachers are far too busy worrying about how they are going to pay their own bills rather than worrying about how half of you are paying yours.

waugusta92
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waugusta92 12/18/09 - 01:47 pm
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LOL@lifelongresidient. nice.

LOL@lifelongresidient. nice. agreed.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/18/09 - 01:51 pm
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Raise your hand if you have

Raise your hand if you have ever been to a meeting of the RCBOE. Anyone? Anyone? Buhler?

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 12/18/09 - 01:54 pm
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You teachers crack me who

You teachers crack me who complain about their job yet you only work half the year, you are never on call 24/7, your job performance is not scrutinized, you never have to work weekends or holidays or nights, you work in climate controlled environments, etc. If you don't like being a teacher then go into the real world and put that grueling education degree to work.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/18/09 - 01:56 pm
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As for Lifelongresident, you

As for Lifelongresident, you voted for stadiums, so now you have stadiums. Actually, the county overwhelmingly approved the referendum to buid the stadiums. I don't like it either, but this is a democracy. Voters have spoken, and the board is doing the will of voters.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/18/09 - 05:15 pm
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heyanother, I DID NOT VOTE

heyanother, I DID NOT VOTE FOR THE STADIUMS!!!!! i understand that the voters have spoken...but ij also have a RIGHT TO MY OPINION it is thinking like yours is the reason the school district is broke!!! and it is the poor property owners that are paying the price, runaway spending on projects that ahs very little impact on the educational process and then when the money runs out it is the students, teachers, parapros and bus drivers who suffer. they are the ones that are laid-off, forced to do more with less, expected to do their jobs with insufficient school supplies, textbooks or other essentials, and it is them who end upbeing demonized for low test scores, graduation rates or the failure of the high schools to meet ayp, when in actuallity the responsibility should fall on the PARENTS and the "good for nothing", self-centered and selfish school board that continiously rewards schools with million dollar football fields/b-ball gymnaisums that fails to meet ayp on a yearly basis but refuses to impliment the learning model that allowed davidson to be recognized as one of the TOP 100 SCHOOLS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRy or even make sure there are enuff textbooks/supplies for all students

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/18/09 - 05:22 pm
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BTW, another been to meetings

BTW, another been to meetings in person and I WATCHED THEM BEING BROADCAST religiously, you can count the number of meeting i missed on 2 hands within the last 3-4yrs..and its the same wek after week.."what else can we waste money on, other than books, schools supplies, more teachers, pay increases for teachers, parapros, bus drivers or any other employee directly related to education"...also another are you aware that there recntly there was an advertisement(IN THE METRO COURIER) for bids to build laney(of all schools-with the lowest graduation rate in the county, and was designated the 2nd worst school in the state) to build them a NEW GYMNASIUM?!??!?!?!?!?!?...are you kidding me?? but there aren't enuff textbooks or schools supplies and no money to buy any, but millions to build a gymnasium but before this year had a graduation rate less than 35%.......

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/18/09 - 05:44 pm
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Pssst... Lifelongresident,

Pssst... Lifelongresident, let me tell you about a secret the school board doesn't want you to know about. You've been to board meetings, so I'm sure they were clever to keep this hidden from the public eye. There was this little thing called an election a couple of years ago. And at this election, something called citizena cast ballots for a list of projects. On that list, is everything you have mentioned. I know it's a shock. I'm still recovering from it. Unlike the city and the TEE center, the school board is actually doing as voters told it to do. At the next board meeting, watch for code words like "building committee." That's where Jeff Baker will give a SPLOST update. Also, there's two SPLOST oversight committees with residents on it. "SPLOST oversight committees" is secret code for committees that oversee SPLOST. I'll let you borrow my decoder ring that I got out of the box of Cracker Jacks.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/18/09 - 07:30 pm
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"your job performance is not

"your job performance is not scrutinized, you never have to work weekends or holidays or nights, you work in climate controlled environments, etc. " What planet is the Baron living on? His perception of a teacher's job is far removed from reality.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/18/09 - 07:55 pm
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Corgi, most people who

Corgi, most people who comment on here have no clue what they are talking about. Others just comment to provoke people. A select few actually have something intelligent to contribute the discussion.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/28/09 - 08:56 am
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hey another, pssst, here's

hey another, pssst, here's another little secret i want to let you know about...it's been around for about 230 years..it's called the CONSTITUTION!!! which gives me the right to free speech, to voice my opinion...i guess you never made it out of high school or you graduated from one of the schools that failed to meet ayp or graduated less than 50% of it's senior class....just because something was passed by the voters doesn't mean i have to keep quiet about it i have the RIGHT under the constitution to voice my opinion as well as anyone else...maybe it is you who has very little if anything intelligent to say, being that you feel that those who disagree with or feel the schools board is doing a poor job of educating our children should be quiet or shouldn't have a right to voice their opinion

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