Education Agency Staff Describe Cuts to the AFY20 Budget
The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee heard from leaders of the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and other state education agencies about proposed changes to their current budgets, the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 (AFY20) budget. (Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed AFY20 budget is available
.) While there are several increases in the department’s budget, most of the changes are in response to Gov. Kemp’s directive to cut the AFY20 budget by four percent. The state’s K-12 funding formula, the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, is exempt from the cut.
Ted Beck, chief financial officer of GaDOE, reported that funding for the QBE formula would increase approximately $145 million. Of that amount, about $114 million will go to school districts as part of their QBE allocation. This mostly reflects the growing proportion of students identified for additional services such as gifted, remedial and special education. Other additions include $18.3 million for state charter schools and $9.7 million for the Special Needs Scholarship, a private school voucher program for special education students.
Cuts to the AFY20 budcget total approximately $12.5 million according to Beck. Programs slated for cuts include:
- Business and Finance Administration: -$553,088
- Chief Turnaround Officer: -$593,532
- Curriculum Development: -$221,968
- Grants for Career, Technical and Agricultural Education and Technology equipment: -$80,000
- Regional Education Service Agencies: -$582,720
- School Improvement: -$789,283
Beck reported that the cuts will be managed primarily by not filling vacancies and reducing travel and other services that are not mission-critical.
Lawmakers expressed concern about the impact of the cuts, particularly the Chief Turnaround Office and School Improvement program, which provide support to persistently low-performing schools. Committee Chairman Robert Dickey (R-Musella) also questioned how state schools would fare under the proposed cuts.
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) and the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) are also managing budget cuts. Matt Arthur, executive secretary for the PSC, noted that his agency is also keeping vacant positions open and is reducing travel. He indicated that he does not anticipate the cuts will impact teachers seeking certification, but they may affect the certification appeals process.
Joy Hawkins, GOSA’s executive director, explained that the cuts extend the agency’s efforts to streamline its processes. The agency eliminated three positions as well as a grant program. The activities of the grant program have been incorporated into the Teacher Leadership Academy.
The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet again to vote on changes to the proposed budgets for these education agencies as well as the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (Bright from the Start). Their recommendations will then move to the full Appropriations Committee of the House.