Where’s outrage over Cobb school funding?
by Teresa Plenge
Columnist
June 27, 2013 09:59 PM | 1623 views | 2 2 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In 2012, Gwinnett County legislators Rep. Brooks Coleman and Sen. Tommie Williams sponsored House Bill 824. The purpose of this bill was to broaden the requirements for a school district to be eligible for funding above their QBE formula earnings, called Educational Equalization Funding Grants. These grants are to further assist counties with certain levels of poverty by giving them even more money from “richer” school districts. Gwinnett’s school district has been eligible for these funds since 2008 under the old QBE law.

Now, due to the passage of HB 824, they are eligible for more of your tax dollars, $65 million more! They brag about this grant in their online budget report and how HB 824 has helped them get even more money.

Cobb’s legislators have convinced Cobb taxpayers that it is impossible to make any changes to QBE because of how dysfunctional the relationships are under the gold dome. While most of the Cobb delegation did not bother to vote at all, the ones who did vote all voted in favor of helping Gwinnett and other counties to more of your money. Gwinnett’s legislators apparently did not get the memo about QBE changes being impossible. Of course changes are possible when the powerful Cobb delegation is so willing to vote to give YOUR money away. Only legislators from Newnan, Cherokee, Valdosta and Gainesville were wise enough to vote against this Bill. They strive to protect their taxpayers. Not so in Cobb.

How can Gwinnett be eligible for more state educational dollars taken from Cobb taxpayers based on household income? Gwinnett’s rate of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches was 43 percent (in 2010), but Cobb’s rate was also 43 percent. In raw numbers, Gwinnett received $681,151,973 or $4,145 per student in state funding while Cobb received only $388,906,702 or $3,590 per student in 2012. Gwinnett receives 15.5 percent more from the state than Cobb receives. Through EEFG’s it looks as though some school districts are more equal than others. Why?

Dr. Hinojosa has stated that deep educational austerity cuts by our state legislators are the “new normal.” He is right since our Republican governors love to steal education funds, put those monies in the state’s general fund, and play with them at will. I am not sure this is legal under the Georgia Constitution, but no one has challenged the legality of this behavior.

There has been no outrage from taxpayers/voters in Cobb so it does seem that this practice will continue. Why is this? Someone please explain it to me. As much as possible I want my tax dollars to be spent in Cobb, not Gwinnett.

Gwinnett spends $240 per student in central office costs while Cobb is responsive to its taxpayers and spends only $83 per child. Gwinnett has high school science equipment that rivals that available at the university level. That will never be possible in Cobb. Gwinnett can spend our money any wasteful way they want and we have no say in the matter.

The Marietta Daily Journal began reporting that Gwinnett receives $65 million of Cobb taxpayers’ money months ago. I waited for a cry of outrage, but it did not come. I began to believe that the powerbrokers in Cobb no longer cared about our public schools.

I was so pleased to see the Counter Common Core organization send up a loud cry about this important curriculum and federal control matter. Through this I discovered that the power brokers actually do care about public education very much. I encourage them and all taxpayers in Cobb to further support public education and local control by including an outcry regarding this unacceptable funding situation.

Now that they have the attention of Cobb’s powerful legislators, they need to ask them to explain why they continue to give your tax dollars away. Tell them to STOP harming Cobb by giving OUR money to Gwinnett.

Dr. Teresa Plenge is a former chairwoman of the Cobb school board.
Comments
(2)
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Kevin Foley
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June 28, 2013
Nah, the "power brokers" don't care about education. They only care about sticking it to the Obama and Dems, even when their own kids suffer. Oh, wait. Their kids go to the expensive private schools.

This is the same stupidity that's sending Georgia tax dollars north to blue states to fund Medicare expansion.

MCS Teacher
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June 28, 2013
This is ludicrous! Our tax money should stay here in Cobb. What a ridiculous difference in the amount of money spent per student.
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