The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has issued the following press release indicating their support of an initiative for changing the funding formula for Georgia’s public schools. The timing is interesting for two reasons. The Georgia Department of Education will be among the first to receive the “Zero Based Budgeting” treatment. In addition, there is a State Education Funding Study Commission that is expected to release recommendations for a new funding formula before the next session of the Georgia General Assembly.
The Chamber appears to be aligning themselves with the Governor and legislature to roll out the new formula. As in any change, there will be winners and losers. Having the Chamber publicly prepared to back the recommended changes appears to be part of the process to help “encourage” legislators who feel they may not be on the winning end of the re-distribution to support the measure.
The full release is as follows:
Georgia Chamber Launches Smarter Funding, Better Outcomes
New initiative will explore link between education funding and student success
ATLANTA, Ga. (June 26, 2012) — The Georgia Chamber of Commerce today announced the launch of Smarter Funding, Better Outcomes, a new initiative that will examine ways to improve Georgia’s K-12 funding system — and by extension, the success of Georgia students.
Funded in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the initiative follows prior research by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce that ranked Georgia 31st among all states for the return on its investment in education and 39th for school finance overall. K-12 education spending in Georgia totaled $17.5 billion in 2010-2011. But despite this investment, Georgia continues to lag the nation in key education performance indicators such as high school graduation and core subject competency.
“Our organization has long recognized that the quality of our state’s education system impacts the quality of our workforce,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO. “Right now, our education outcomes are a serious challenge to Georgia’s competitiveness — our ability to create, attract and retain jobs. We expect this research will reveal potential improvements that will help boost those outcomes, and the success of our students.”
Smarter Funding, Better Outcomes has retained Public Impact, a leading education research and consulting firm based in Chapel Hill, N.C., to examine how key characteristics of high-quality education funding systems — such as transparency, flexibility, efficiency and equity — could be better applied in Georgia. The initiative also aims to complement the work of the State Education Finance Study Commission, and to advance the public conversation on this critical issue — a recent poll found Georgia voters are ready to support spending education dollars more efficiently and effectively. A formal report is expected in fall 2012.
“Improving Georgia’s public education system is a top priority,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “We are examining the system on many different levels, including how we fund the needs of our students. We applaud the Chamber for its contribution to this important process, and we look forward to reviewing the results of the research.”
To learn more about Smarter Funding, Better Outcomes, visit SmartK12Funding.com, or join the conversation on Twitter by following@SmartK12Funding and on Facebook at SmartK12Funding.