Clayton BOE publishes its 2014 Legislative Priorities

JONESBORO — The Clayton County Board of Education has a long list of legislative priorities it wants to tackle in 2014 and school funding tops that agenda.

Officials want to end austerity reductions and restore state funding education, particularly to areas they deem inadequately supported. They point to $216.5 million the school district has seen reverted to the state since the funding cuts began in 2003 to help make up for state revenue losses.

Eight priorities were included on the list approved by the school board in December.

Officials listed funding the state’s employee health benefits program to include more “flexible plan options and a higher level of coverage” as a second priority.

Thirdly, officials are pledging a push to defeat attempts to “impede the ability of Clayton County governmental agencies to collect taxes otherwise permitted under the laws of the State of Georgia.” They say there would be adverse effects upon the county’s quality of education without those tax revenues.

Board member Jessie Goree recommended the board appoint a person to lobby at the state Capitol on the district’s behalf.

“This is my annual concern,” said Goree. “Clayton County schools and the county of Clayton lose an ample amount of money during the legislative sessions.”

The board’s fourth priority is supporting and promoting local governance and control of education monies owed to districts based on the state’s Quality Basic Education funding formula.

Fifth is the opposition of legislation that would establish a voucher system or a system of tuition tax credits in the State of Georgia. Officials said a voucher or tax credit system would divert funding from public schools into private schools or home study programs.

The board’s No. 6 priority is a campaign for revisions to the QBE funding guidelines that would allow districts to add positions and increase technology funding, while eliminating unfunded mandates.

Officials are recommending the state increase its compulsory attendance age to 18 or require written parental consent prior to a student un-enrolling at any age. They say doing so would align the state with federal requirements and would be in the best interest of the student. That is priority No. 7.

The board’s final legislative priority is to fund school improvement measures outlined in the federal Race to the Top program, including increased quality standards and assessments, professional development for teachers and administrators and longitudinal data systems as well as increasing efforts to turnaround lowest-achieving schools.

To view the Clayton County Board of Education’s 2014 Legislative Priorities, visit www.clayton.k12.ga.us.