education reform plan may cut Fayette funding
By PAT NEWMAN
for changes in the state's Quality Basic
Education formulas for funding, which seem to
change daily, have Fayette County school
officials on edge.
having a hard time finding out how this will
affect us, John DeCotis, Fayette County
school superintendent, told the board Monday
this point, DeCotis said Fayette County will be
required to increase its fair share contribution
state funds that prosperous counties
forego in favor of poorer counties from
$11.9 million in fiscal year 2000 to $13.4
million in fiscal year 2001, resulting in a net
loss of $1.5 million, if Gov. Roy Barnes'
education proposals become law.
the governor is sticking by his proposals, said
DeCotis. Jim Stephens and I, along with
[state] representatives Lynn Westmoreland and
Kathy Cox, met with Tom Wagner, deputy director
of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget
on Friday, Feb. 4, to discuss the changes in the
formula. We were informed that there was little
likelihood that any substantial changes to the
proposals would be forthcoming, DeCotis
in the value of taxable property in Fayette would
cause an increase in Fayette's fair share
payments regardless of the governor's proposals,
according to DeCotis.
1997, the [tax] digest grew by 9 percent; in
1998, it grew by 16.4 percent and by 9.3 percent
in 1999. These growth factors play an important
role in computation of the local fair share and
the equalization grants, and these two components
of the state allotments will impact heavily on
the amount of state funds to be allocated to our
system in fiscal year 2001, DeCotis said.
in the tax digest will cost the Fayette County
school system $826,887 whether the governor's
education reform package passes in the Senate or
not, according to DeCotis. However, the most
recent news is that implementation will take
place over four years, softening the financial
blow to Fayette County and the other counties
listed among the state's most prosperous.
the bright side, DeCotis said, We're in a
little better shape than we anticipated.
While the system will still have to give up more
money to the state, the governor will also be
giving back money for some specific purposes.
Another plus is the school system's already low
Riddle, on staff in the district office, told the
board that she and the director of human
resources are trying to formulate projections at
a 20:1 teacher-student ratio. We're on hold
until we see the governor's proposal,
noted other issues that may be included in the
governor's reform plan that would affect the
county, such as proposed cuts in the
transportation budget, elimination of funding for
vocational, writing and language labs, and cuts
in planning time from 90 minutes to 55 minutes
for middle school and high school teachers.