Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 1 Brings New Laws

A number of new laws go into effect July 1 and here is a brief review.

SB 14 - Prohibits Superintendent or School Board Members from serving with an immediate family member as principal, assistant principal or central staff.

HB 149 - Allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college and receive high school credit. ("Move on When Ready")

HB 243 - Sunsets National Board Certification program, grandfathers in those already awarded or in pipeline

HB 193 - Allows local school boards to use total hours instead of total days in meeting the 180 day mandatory attendance.

HB 280 - Increases step pay for beginning and existing science and math teachers.

HB 86 - Requires proof of citizenship in registering to vote

HB 228 - Creates new department of Behavioral Health and moves Public Health to Dept. of Community Health

SB 196 - Creates a misdemeanor when a driver has a collision caused by a right of way violation involving bicycles, motorcyclists

HB 160 - Increased driver's license reinstatement fees, but "Super Speeder" provisions begin Jan. 1, 2010.


Although education makes up a large part of the state budget, the cuts to K-12 education have been significantly less than cuts to other agencies. Fast growing systems have been the main recipient of the new funds.

Enrollment in K-12 education has continued to increase as Georgia's population has grown. Since 2001, Georgia's K-12 student population has grown by 14%, or 200,000 students, while K-12 funding has grown by 38%. In FY10, K-12 education overall makes up about 40% of the state funds in the budget. The FY10 budget appropriates $7.39 billion in state funds to the Department of Education, in addition to $413.1 million in federal stimulus budget stabilization funds. State funds appropriated to the Department of Education over the past five years are as follows:

FY06, $6.61 billion
FY07, $7.39 billion
FY08, $7.97 billion
FY09, $7.99 billion
FY10, $7.97 billion (including federal budget stabilization funds.)

So, in the last five years, funds going to K-12 have increased by $1.3 billion. In total, in FY10, the Department of Education and its component programs only received a 3% or $211 million cut from the original FY09 budget which would have funded Education at $8.2 billion and presumed that revenues would grow rather than shrink. By way of comparison, cuts to other agencies in the state averaged 11% below the original FY09 budget, not including statewide cuts such as withholding staff pay raises.

K-12 programs have also seen a substantial increase in funding from the federal government through the stimulus bill funding for Title I programs for disadvantaged students and funding for students with special needs. An additional $650 million will go directly to school systems for these programs in FY10.

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