After a week of joint appropriations hearings on the state budget, the House and Senate reconvened for Legislative Day 6. A number of committee meetings were also scheduled.
House Committee Considers Policy Recommendations from Teacher of the Year, Early Childhood Education Working Group, and Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
The House Education Committee met for the first time in 2024, and Chair Chris Erwin (R-Homer) outlined continuing committee goals: school safety, literacy, and good policy. Erwin also referenced his pride in the grit of Georgia teachers and administrators.
2024 Georgia Teacher of the Year Christy Todd addresses the House Education Committee
Next, 2024 Georgia Teacher of the Year Christy Todd addressed committee members. Todd described her childhood in small-town Georgia, her travels as state Teacher of the Year, and her service providing teacher voice at State Board of Education (SBOE) meetings. Todd framed her role as closing the gap between policy and practice. She encouraged elevating educators to strengthen the teacher pipeline and the state economy, and she encouraged policymakers to support public schools by increasing funding for school safety, early learning, pupil transportation, and literacy. Importantly, and also in strong alignment with PAGE priorities, Todd emphasized the importance of livable working wages for educators.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), a member of the committee, presented welcome findings from the House Working Group on Early Childhood Education, including reducing Pre-K class size from 22 to 20, raising salaries for Pre-K teachers and assistant teachers, and allowing local districts to direct capital construction budgets for the provision of Pre-K classrooms. Jones mentioned that Erwin would be offering legislation on capital funding for Pre-K and also mentioned funding for Pre-K initiatives would come from lottery reserves.
Before the committee adjourned, Dana Rickman from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s (GPEE) presented GPEE’s Top Ten Issues to Watch, which echoed themes referenced by Todd and Jones, including literacy, access to quality childcare, and the state teacher pipeline.
Lawmakers Examine Proposed Changes to Current Education Budget
Members of the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee had only a few questions about the education spending changes Gov. Brian Kemp has proposed in his Amended Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The most notable change is the $1,000 salary supplement for full-time benefit-eligible district employees as well as Pre-K lead and assistant teachers. Following up on a question from Chair Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville), Rusk Roam, chief financial officer for the Georgia Department of Education, reported that districts have been asked to distribute the supplements by Jan. 31. Roam said he is not aware of any problems districts have encountered in meeting that deadline.
More information about Kemp’s proposed changes is available from PAGE here. Committee members will continue their review and may revise the budget proposal before sending it to the full appropriations committee for review and passage.
Tuesday, Jan. 23 - Legislative Day 7
2:30 p.m. Senate Education & Youth, 450 CAP
Wednesday, Jan. 24 – Legislative Day 8
Thursday, Jan. 25 - Legislative Day 9
Friday, Jan. 26 - Legislative Day 10