Georgia schools: More kids, less money, grim outlook

Here’s a grim view of what funding cuts, coupled with increased enrollments, are doing to Georgia school systems, courtesy of Cedric Johnson at Georgia Public Policy Institute, via Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog:.

•First, Georgia’s K-12 student population has increased tremendously and at a much faster rate than other states. Since 2000, enrollment in Georgia’s public schools increased by 230,000 additional students. More than 1.6 million students will enter public k-12 classrooms in Georgia for the 2013 school year, representing the eighth-largest elementary and secondary school system in the United States.

•Even though schools need more resources to cope with the surge in students, state support for public education has steadily declined over the last decade. Lawmakers have cut the state’s core funding program for K-12 education by$5.7 billion since 2003, with most of these cuts occurring over the past four years. That equates to a loss of around $600 per student, or $15,000 for a classroom of 25 students, annually since the 2009 school year. When adjusted for inflation, per pupil spending is now at its lowest level in over 10 years.

•Third, responsibility for funding public schools has steadily shifted from the state to the local level. Whereas the state provided 60 percent of funding for K-12 education in 2000, it only provided 50 percent by 2010. While that might not seem like a huge change, a 1 percent shift in funding responsibility equated to $131 million in 2011.Property taxes are the major local revenue source for public school funding, and declining property values in the wake of the Great Recession have only contributed to school districts’ challenges.

Read the Institute’s FY 2013 Budget Analysis: PK-12 Education

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