The Board of Education and Superintendent recommend the following priorities for the Georgia General Assembly. The DeKalb County legislative delegation [ http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/governmental-relations/dekalb-county-house-and-senate-delegation-(2010).pdf ] is requested to actively support each priority with the governor and membership of the general assembly. DeKalb County School District urges the general assembly to
- adequate funding of the quality basic education (QBE) formula;
- maintaining local board of education authority;
- reviewing the equalization formula;
- reviewing the local five mill share contributions; and
- increasing the compulsory school attendance age;
- universal curriculum, calendars, transfer policies, and facility use; and
- school vouchers and tuition credits.
Adequate Funding of the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) Formula
DeKalb County Schools urges the general assembly to enact legislation that requires all new education-related mandates to be fully funded with consideration for the programmatic, operational, and local fiscal impacts of these changes to protect local school systems from financial burdens created by state appropriations shortfalls.
Maintaining Local School Board Authority
School boards and superintendents should maintain the authority and management of issues relating to the levying of local tax dollars, local legislation, personnel, finance, and facilities. School boards should be afforded this authority while maintaining accountability to student academic achievement and school management. DeKalb County Schools opposes statutory initiatives that would result in or have the effect of limiting the constitutional authority of local school systems.
DeKalb County Schools opposes the provision of House Bill (HB) 251 that addresses the eligibility of citizens to run for election/re-election to local school boards.
Universal Curriculum, Calendars, Transfer Policies, and Facility Use
DeKalb County Schools opposes any initiatives that attempt to mandate a universal curriculum, school transfer policies, school calendar, or use of locally owned school facilities. DeKalb County Schools believes that curriculum, school calendars, local education-related legislation, and facilities determinations are the domain of local school boards.
Reviewing the Equalization Formula
Annual Funding for Fiscal Years 2003–2010
The existing QBE funding formula, which is based upon the relative "wealth" of the various school districts, must not only consider average real estate property values, but also the average per capita income, percentage of students on free and reduced meals, and the number of taxpayers who live near or below poverty income.
- The total statewide QBE cuts to education funding since 2003 are $2.82 billion.
- DeKalb County Schools QBE cuts for fiscal years 2003–2010 are $170 million (see table).
- Every 1 percent cut to the QBE formula equals a $5.3 million loss in funding for DeKalb County Schools.
- For every dollar earned through state funding for education, one-third of that dollar has been taken away through austerity cuts to the education budget.
- The austerity cut for this year is a 17.3 percent reduction in state funds.
- Fiscal year 2010 state QBE funds are below the fiscal year 2007 level.
Despite state cuts for education, DeKalb County Schools has not raised local taxes since 2003.
Reviewing the Local Five Mill Share
Each local board is required to provide and use local funds in support of the QBE formula by providing its first five mills. For DeKalb County's 2009–2010 fiscal year, this reduction is $129 million (or $21.4 million per mill) based on 2007 figures.
DeKalb County Schools urges the review of this formula to use current millage rates instead of using data from previous fiscal years. Many districts receiving five-mill-share earnings have benefited by providing a lower millage rate to taxpayers and forcing contributing districts to increase their millage rates.
Increasing the Compulsory School Attendance Age
In an effort to increase the graduation rate, DeKalb County Schools recommends that the governor and the general assembly increase the state compulsory school attendance age from sixteen to seventeen years of age.
School Vouchers and Tuition Credits
DeKalb County Schools opposes legislation that mandates or permits public school programs, activities, facilities, or funding by non-public school students through vouchers or tuition tax credits.