(The Center Square) — State education leaders released their 2024 legislative priorities, a list they say would increase funding for public schools in Georgia, help attract teachers and keep students safe.
However, the state’s association of teachers is raising some concerns about the list.
Regarding school funding, education officials want lawmakers to fully fund the QBE formula, increase funding for transportation costs and recognize poverty as part of a larger effort to modernize the K-12 funding formula. For teacher recruitment, their priorities include supporting a $3,000 pay raise for teachers to bring the total teacher pay increase to $10,000 within the next three years.
“The best way to invest in Georgia’s future is investing in our students, families, and educators,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in an announcement. “Our legislative priorities are guided by that underlying belief.”
A Georgia Department of Education spokeswoman told The Center Square the precise budget depends “on the scope and scale of specific legislation as written.”
The head of the Georgia Association of Educators told The Center Square the group would like to see state lawmakers tackle waivers allowing local school districts to bypass state laws, such as physical education requirements and class size restrictions.
“The vast majority of the items are focused on students and educators, which is what we should be looking at and where we should be focusing,” Lisa Morgan, president of the GAE, told The Center Square.
“I think where we would have some angst is that all of these are priorities within the current strategic waiver system, which means that even if, for example, we secure funding to place a paraprofessional in all kindergarten through second-grade classrooms, the districts, through their waivers and through the charter would not be required to use that funding in that manner,” Morgan added. “We have to address the fact that the waivers exist and that the waivers are being used to act in ways that are not supporting students and educators.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor