Special Legislative Session Underway
The General Assembly convened for a special session to set new district lines for state and federal lawmakers. Legislators can vote only on bills related to redistricting and other items Gov. Brian Kemp (R) identified in the proclamation he issued to convene the session. This includes a revision to the tax code and legislation directed to local matters. Lawmakers can also hold committee meetings to discuss bills still alive after the regular 2021 session, or issues they intend to work on during the 2022 regular session.
The PAGE legislative team is monitoring activity during the special session and will report on education-related meetings, including a Senate study committee exploring compulsory school attendance, which gathered on the first day of the special session as described below.
Budget a Top Concern for 2022 Regular Session
The PAGE legislative team is also preparing for the 2022 legislative session, which gets underway in January. State funding for public schools is a crucial concern. School districts continue to face extra costs due to the pandemic while also coping with an austerity cut of $383 million to the state’s K-12 funding formula (QBE - Quality Basic Education). Other critical budget items include:
Persistent underfunding of student transportation costs;
Lack of state funding for school counselors for all students;
Insufficient funding for substitute teachers; and,
Fulfillment of the remaining $2,000 for the promised educator pay raise.
More information on these topics is available in a brief from the PAGE legislative team. The team is developing additional materials to support educator advocacy including member-driven 2022 legislative priorities and issue briefs. These will be released before the 2022 session.
Understanding Issues that Matter to Members: 2022 PAGE Legislative Survey
The 2022 Legislative Survey is now open for all PAGE members. The survey helps the PAGE legislative team better understand educators’ perspectives on issues that members have raised or have emerged in the political debate. The team uses survey findings with legislators and other policymakers who make decisions that shape public education in Georgia. You can participate in the survey by clicking HERE. We look forward to your input!
Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Attendance Adopts Report
After the legislature briefly convened for the first day of the 2022 special session, a Senate study committee on the age of mandatory school attendance met for the fifth and final time. The study committee is chaired by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) and was created by SR 192, which Payne co-sponsored during the 2021 session with Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah). Jackson also sponsored SB 3, legislation which did not pass in 2021, which seeks to raise the age of compulsory student attendance in Georgia from 16 to 17.
During the meeting, committee discussion indicated all members agree students should be in school but disagree over the best strategy to compel attendance. Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), a longtime Cobb County school board member, proposed amending the committee report to reflect his view that legally mandating student attendance is less preferable than directing resources to earlier student intervention. Tippins referenced data showing mandatory school attendance does not improve student graduation rates.
Ultimately, the committee voted to adopt the report with one dissenting vote by Tippins. The Senate will now consider further action based on the study committee report. As of this writing, the study committee report is not yet publicly available, though the report is expected to be posted on the Senate study committee resource page HERE.