Appropriation Committees Kick Off the Budget Process
State budget writers on the house and senate appropriations committees got to work this week with presentations from State School Superintendent Richard Woods and other state agency directors. Woods and Rusk Roam, chief financial officer for the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), reviewed the budget for public schools proposed by Governor Brian Kemp for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023) as well as changes to the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Woods highlighted the importance of the proposed $2,000 educator pay raise as a valuable educator retention tool. If approved by the General Assembly, the $2,000 salary bump would follow the $3,000 raise passed in 2019 and would fulfill Kemp’s campaign pledge of a $5,000 pay raise for teachers.
Rusk described changes in public school enrollment, a central factor in the state’s formula for funding K-12 schools. Enrollment increased in FY 2022 by 11,887 full-time equivalent students over FY21 enrollment, but it remains approximately 24,000 below the FY20 level.
Rusk also noted that enrollment in several student categories fell, including the Early Intervention Program from kindergarten through grade 5, special education I and II, middle school, and gifted. Students in these categories are allocated higher per student dollar amounts by the state funding formula, enabling districts to provide additional student services.
Several lawmakers posed questions about school district curriculum use, including social-emotional learning, and whether state standards are followed at the local level. Woods described the steps GaDOE is taking to increase transparency at the state and local levels, including those related to curriculum. He outlined a proposed new state board of education rule that aims to expand transparency. The rule is open for public comment. More information about the proposed rule is available from PAGE HERE.