State cuts add to school budget woes
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
April 26, 2012 12:32 AM | 4212 views | 22 22 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Like school districts across Georgia, Cobb and Marietta City schools have seen the money they get from the state slashed significantly over the last decade, but the districts have grown tired of the cuts and want their money.

Still, the leader of Cobb’s legislative delegation says the state can’t pay money it doesn’t have.

All together, the state owes school districts across Georgia nearly $5 billion.

Mike Addison, Cobb’s chief financial officer, said that since 2003, his district has not received $353 million owed by the state. Marietta City has not received nearly $27 million it is owed.

Neither of the districts expect to ever see that money, but they do hope the cuts will stop as they go forward.

“Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue decided that the state couldn’t fully fund their (Quality Basic Education) commitment, so he implemented austerity cuts,” Addison said. “We just want (the state) to restore what they do owe us each year.”

Likewise, Marietta City’s school board has asked only that future cuts are minimized, spokesman Thomas Algarin said.

Residents fund the state education department through sales and income taxes, and state officials use what is called a QBE formula to determine how much money per student the state will pay school districts.

For fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, Addison said Cobb plans to spend $7,898 per student, and the state should pay 46 percent of that, or $3,649 per student. The district is also facing a $62 million deficit in its fiscal 2013 budget of more than $841 million.

State law requires the state to pay the QBE money, Addison said.

But Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), who sits on the state’s education committee, said the state can’t spend money it doesn’t have.

“Relative to the QBE law, even though we’re off that some, I think we’re doing very well,” he said. “Education has been significantly protected and will continue to be as a priority. Are we funding like we’d like to? No. We’d like to give more, but in our times we aren’t able to.”

Setzler said that while some other state agencies saw their budgets slashed by up to 25 percent, the education department only saw cuts of between 8 percent and 9 percent.

“(Education was) protected compared to the average agency,” Setzler said. “As we’ve tried to replenish funds, (education has) replenished funds faster than other agencies.”

Earlier this month, Cobb school board member David Banks, who represents northeast Cobb, asked whether the district could sue the state over the cuts.

“If the state legally owes us that money, why haven’t we had tried to get it? If you don’t ask, you won’t get it,” he said. “That’s our money, and it belongs to us. … If we owed the state, I guarantee they’d be coming after us.”

Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said he is not ready to pursue legal action.

“The board and staff would have to have an extremely convincing argument to persuade me,” he said. “I want to work through the current system first. If that is not successful, then other options might be considered.”
Comments
(22)
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Politician is crazy
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April 26, 2012
Maybe the legislature should not have approved the three projects that are part of the $1.2 billion a year the state is now paying on long-term debt, up about 60 percent from the year Perdue took office. What about that Ed Setzler? You continue to approve all this wasteful spending at the cost of our children. You are a jerk!

Tex G
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April 26, 2012
We are too far gone for Politness. You brought your kid into this. I have to pay for your kid. Pay for your kid and let me keep my hard earned money and you wont hear from me. You wont. You are a leech.
Cobb Dad
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April 27, 2012
I do pay for my kid and so many others with the amount of taxes I pay. We are all in this together and we will continue to be in this boat until some other alternative is available.

It is apparent listening to you that you have nothing to offer but stupidity in your remarks. You are way off base as usual. As homeowners in Cobb, we all pay more taxes that we need to and none of us are happy about it.

Tex G
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April 26, 2012
Hey YER WONG DUDE.

You are WONG AGAIN.

Charter Schools. Vouchers. Whats the matter there pardner are you are teacher? Loafer.
Just Wait
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April 26, 2012
The political answer to education in Georgia has always been to throw money at it. Now, with a bad economy, there is no money to throw. City and County districts have suckled for so long, they cannot operate on what they get from local taxes. Many want to do away with the exemption for seniors who have more than paid their fair shares. At some point, someone will have to realize that more money is not the answer. There MUST be a better approach to education that teaches the students at a fair cost to all.
Tex G
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April 26, 2012
Cobb Dad. I think you and your kid on medication is what you mean.

Sorry charlie. The taxpayers are tired of paying for political indoctrination, sex ed, and a sub par education that then comes back to us in a life time of entitlement payments.

Close the dumps and do vouchers so the market can decide.
@Tex: Yer Wrong Dude
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April 26, 2012
NOPE. Sorry old man but vouchers aren't the answer. Now...if an old pan handle codger is still willing to be educated search for the Huffington Post article "The Uncomfortable Truth About Charter Schools" by Larry Strauss. I'll bet my best Stetson you won't bother to read it and if by some miracle you do I KNOW you won't respond.
Cobb Dad
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April 26, 2012
No meds for me it would be more polite on your part to not bring my kid into this discussion.

I am more than tired of taxes. I have voted against the previous SPLOST and will be voting against the next SPLOST due to the wasteful spending by this school board.

Like I said. Offer a legitimate alternative that is feasible for the number of kids to be educated instead of just sitting back and ranting. It is easy to say "close the dumps" when you are not responsible for the education of our kids. Talk about something screwed up if you just throw it out there with no standards.

Banks is Right
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April 26, 2012
Mr. Banks has an excellent point about the state not hesitating to collect if the roles were reversed. What would be the harm in at least researching the possible legal avenues to force the state to comply with the QBE laws, i.e., making the legislature comply with what they themselves passed and agreed upon? If all the local districts in GA sued the state at the same time, wouldn't that be interesting? And, while trying to sound generous in protecting education, Mr. Setzler is not stating the obvious: education has been somewhat protected from cuts exactly because the state QBE laws have created a special obligation from the state that no other budget area has. The state knows that it is failing to meet its statutory obligations for funding education, so it is wisely trying to at least reduce the appearance of that failure.
Banks is Wrong Again
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April 26, 2012
Applying political pressure on all GA Senators and Representatives during an election year is more effective tactic than suing.

All GA Senators and Representatives are up for election this year. Force them to take and reveal their position on public education funding.

Will they, or won't they support restoration of public education funding? If yes, when? If no, support candidates that will.

Districts across the state don't have enough money to fund education, let alone fund legal action. Funding is needed yesterday and a legal process could drag on for a long time, while simultaneously wasting a lot of money on legal fees.

Speaking of fees, would larger districts incur greater legal expenses than smaller districts? Who decides?
Tex G
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April 26, 2012
Budget cuts are the least of our worries. Lay off all these loafers and politruks.

Public schools are a menace. They produce nothing but under educated communist operatives.

Close this den of cheats and do a voucher program. Close Cobb Schools today. I am sick of paying for your children to grow up and be leeches and thugs.
Cobb Dad
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April 26, 2012
Dude, maybe some medication will help you. Calm down and propose something better instead of just ranting and railing of things you know nothing about.
You lie!
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April 26, 2012
Mr Setzler, it's not that you don't have money to "spend", it's that you've spent it where you should have instituted cuts.

You've taken MILLIONS of our tax dollars. Cobb's gotten NONE of it back. It's time for you to grow a backbone and make your own tough choices!

Households have to make them. School districts have to make them. Now it's your turn, Cowards of the Gold Dome!
JA Bolton
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April 26, 2012
Haven't we had enough of Republicans cutting education in a time when our students are falling further and further behind India and China and can't qualify for the jobs that are available?

It's well past the time to change leadership in Georgia. republicans have been totally in control for years and look at the mess our education system is in.
Really now!
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April 26, 2012
Oh an Nationally it is doing so much better??? It is the Dems that implement all the rules that they don't care to figure out how much it is going to cost to implement - it just feels like the right thing to do.

I'm not saying both parties are wrong, but it is time to look at education as a whole and stop putting expensive fingers in the dike!

Cobb Dad
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April 26, 2012
Education problems are not due to the Republicans! It has been an issue for a long time which included many decades when the Dumbocrats were in charge of everything. The issue hurting Cobb is that due to QBE (the brainchild of a democratic governor) so much money from Cobb and other metro counties goes to other areas of the State. I have driven through many rural areas of the state and have seen many brand new schools knowing that they were funded and built partially with money from Cobb taxpayers. I know the millage rate in these areas are minimal compared to what we pay.
30 Something
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April 26, 2012
The state is unable to pay its current obligations to the school districts. Maybe the school districts should stop contributing to the state retiree benefit plans for their teachers in the amounts the districts are owed. It is all a house of cards and one day we will all be paying higher taxes for it or it will all come crashing down.
Cobb Taxpayer
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April 26, 2012
Why don't we do away with the senior exemption instead? It is a $64 million special interest exemption for a special interest population.
TIC
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April 26, 2012
If the Cobb School System was spending the money responsibly I wouldn't have a problem continuing to pay the school millage.

But guess what, they aren't!!

So until that time comes I am not willing to provide my money to support the fiscal and operational mismanagement that is taking place.
30 and TIC
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April 26, 2012
Please tell me where they have been fiscally negligent with the GENERAL budget? They have cut everything down to the bone. Have they been irresponsible with SPLOST? Yes they have but that has nothing to do with the general budget that pays teachers. The $300,000 Florida training is GRANT money that CAN NOT be used for salaries. We are at the roads end and they need to change something!
TIC
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April 27, 2012
As they say "The proof is in the pudding."

If the CCSB was handing the general budget in a responsible, businesslike manner then there would not be such a large budget deficit.

It is what is called fiscal management. Identifying and addressing the budget issues before the become serious budget problems.

That obviously is not happening.

Irresponsible board and administrative leadership is the problem.

@TIC
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April 29, 2012
How can you say that CCSD caused the budget problem when it's that STATE Legislature who continues to CUT CUT CUT. Did you not read the article? CCSD has over 107,000 students & over the past 10 years since Sonny's austerity cuts the population of Cobb and the school district has grown. Ed Setzler and our Republican delegation have sought through their masters ALEC to destroy public schools.

You rant and rave about CCSD waste PLEASE GIVE SPECIFICS !! My daughters CCSD high school has over 2700 students. Last year before the new SPLOST addition they had over 30 trailers, a 40 year old SMALL cafeteria, etc. I am sick and tired of the ranting and raving from idiot's like you. We all pay taxes your not special.

Hey Tex G go back to Texas your full of it. Keep drinking the Koch Brothers aka ALEC, Boortz, and Hannity Kool Aid. Face it neither side is out for us joe blows only their Corporate Master.
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