Proposed legislation would cut funds to APS, DeKalb schools. Are these crippling blows?

Is there a secret covenant among legislators to create panic in Atlanta and DeKalb schools?

Because it’s working.

On Wednesday, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen passionately questioned why the General Assembly would pursue legislation that would decimate APS funding and undermine all her efforts to overhaul struggling schools.

She cited Gov. Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District, which she said had the potential of redirecting millions of tax dollars if an entire cluster of the city’s schools was seized by the state.

Carstarphen used the Carver cluster as an example, saying state takeover there would represent “a $60 million hit…that would hurt and shock every single cluster left in Atlanta Public Schools.”

Voters will decide in November whether to grant the state sweeping new powers to take over local schools and absorb them into a portfolio district run by an appointee of the governor.

Carstarphen also mentioned House Bill 633, which would exempt older residents from paying Atlanta Public Schools taxes. Estimated to cost APS $23 million, the bill would grant an exemption for residents over 70.

“If both of those things happen, we might as well go home,” Carstarphen said. “You can’t absorb that kind of consistent shock.”

And there’s another potential financial blow in the works.

As the AJC reported:

A DeKalb legislator is proposing a tax cut that would reduce county school system spending by $56 million a year. Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, told the county’s legislative delegation Monday that the school system’s property tax rate should be lowered to the same level as other schools across Georgia. DeKalb schools currently impose a higher tax rate than the norm because of an exception created more than 30 years ago.

“That money belongs to the taxpayers,” Taylor said. “We have the highest millage rate in the state with the lowest return.”

Taylor said he will introduce a general bill to re-institute the 20-mill cap statewide. DeKalb County’s current tax rate for schools is 23.73 mills. Atlanta Public Schools also exceeds Taylor’s proposed limit with its 21.64 millage rate.

Taylor’s bill could APS $36 million a year in lost revenue.

The impetus behind these measures is the belief more money hasn’t led to dramatic improvements in either DeKalb or Atlanta schools.

But where is the evidence giving these systems less money will improve them?

I have to point out the obvious: Both of these urban districts have seen an increase in students in poverty, who cost more to educate because they come to school less prepared and have the least advantages. There is no evidence that less is more when it comes to children from low-income communities.

 

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
xxxzzz
xxxzzz

Taylor is blackmailing DCSS into supporting the developer of the former GM site in Doraville.  They don't want to give up school dollars to a developer in a special tax district.  If he weren't being so unethical, it would be a good idea.  There is no reason the two districts with the most commercial property can't get by with 20 mills like everyone else.  They have that higher rate to support community colleges they no longer support.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

They should cut her pay to offset the lost funding. The president of the United States.....makes less money!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Carstarphen bemoans the loss of money from the schools that are taken over, but she never mentions that APS does not have to educate those students, so they don't have the COST of that.  Will cutting their money generate better results? NO!  Will cutting their money generate WORSE results?  Doubtful.  The problem is not in how much they spend, but in the caliber of students (and parents) that they have and that will not change.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@class80olddog If they lose those clusters, they need to correspondingly decrease bloat at the central office to right-size their operation.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

Maureen can we get everyone an education?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MajorDowning  Everyone has already been give the OPPORTUNITY for a good education.  Unfortunately, a lot decide not to pursue it.

Starik
Starik

We need to rethink our entire school system, funding, size, organization, teachers education level and pay, everything.  The place to start is in at the bottom, in the worst districts.  

Starik
Starik

@Wascatlady @Starik That depends on the district, doesn't it? Remember the Atlanta test cheating scandal?  I remember the first of the teachers to snitch on her colleagues did so because she had a "vision."

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@Starik @Wascatlady You're talking about a handful of teachers and admins in an entire district of otherwise dedicated professionals. To castigate all of them for the actions of a few is asinine.


CSpinks
CSpinks

Before funding for a public school system is cut (or increased), shouldn't comprehensive financial and performance audits of the system be conducted to insure when and where such a cut (or an increase) might be warranted?

Christie_S
Christie_S

@CSpinks Now, don't go throwing a logic bomb into a good baseless opinion fight!  :D

Another comment
Another comment

Other only real solution is to completely dismantle these large county and city wide districts. All school districts should be no larger than a high school and it's feeder schools. Look up the top twenty public school districts in the country. They all are single high school districts under 9,000 students. Mostly under 5,000 students. You have to have local community involvement and get out the fat layers of administration that these mega districts bring.

Just look at Woodward academy it is the largest K-12 Private School in the Country and it only has 2,500 students. Does that not tell you something! The top private schools have waiting lists of people wanting to pay them $26k plus per year. They do not expand because they know that size is not the answer to a great education model. The same thing with the Ivey league universities that except between 5-10% of applicants.

CSpinks
CSpinks

@Another comment As an admitted opponent of the "bigger is better" school of thought in public education, I must suggest that its proponents examine the outstanding Georgia Milestones results of students enrolled in several, small, city-based, local public school systems in our state.

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@Another comment Your post makes no sense because you are comparing apples to Ford trucks. It's foolish to compare two large urban districts with smaller districts across the nation, and even more foolish to compare them to a PRIVATE school like Woodward.

Most people who bash public education, particularly in urban areas, have NO CLUE what they're talking about. Until you have had to walk into a classroom, peer into the eyes of upwards of 20-25 children and teach each and every one of them something in at least five different content areas (reading, math, science, social studies, English/writing) over the course of 180 days, your comments should be taken with a grain of salt.


Another comment
Another comment

Most areas of the NE and Midwest have small independent school districts that are one high school large. It works much better,

PSDAD
PSDAD

@TruthReallyHurts 


Your post makes no sense because you completely missed the point that AnotherComment was making.  The point is... that small class sizes and small school districts are proven to be more successful than massive urban districts with overpopulated classrooms and overworked teachers.  From your comments I assume that you are one of the educators that is overworked.  Fortunately, your inability to read and comprehend are NOT reflective of every teacher in our urban school system.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

There is a real solution but no one is willing to put it in place. Struggling poor schools have to educate entire families, not just the children. Chances are very good the parents didn't finish high school, grandma or grandpa didn't finish. The program would be geared to the folks without a high school diploma.  A school day can start at 7:30 am with the children then at 2:30 switch over to the adults. The children are placed in after school program that completes homework, play time and provides snacks and a meal at 6 pm. Families can eat together and everyone goes home at 7:30.


Several things happen children are off the streets and out of possible trouble or danger. Those seeking an education and finish are rewarded with assistance finding full-time work. A means of getting out of poverty.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@MajorDowning 

Your thoughts that entire families need to be educated is right on target.  At least, you have offered an original thought about how to solve that illiteracy problem that is generational.  Now, others should take your suggestion seriously and refine it to be pragmatically feasible.  Thank you for thinking through a vital need in the educational delivery in our nation and offering one suggestion for helping that need to be addressed.


It seems to me that follow through with what you have suggested might help better insure that we have two-parent families because our young men will receive more attention in educational circles, including participating with their own family members. Nurturing to an end is always better in educational arenas than coercion.  At least, that has been my experiences in 35 years trying to educate our young and their families in reading development.

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@MajorDowning Good concept, but what about the working poor, which make up a large segment of the population you're trying to address. Those adults without jobs could participate in your program, but not the ones who serve us our fast food, check us out in the grocery store, etc. What about them?

If our goal is to truly "leave no child behind," something has to be done to fit their needs/situation.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@TruthReallyHurts @MajorDowning 

The Democratic caucus plan for education in Georgia's legislature involves a "community school" concept in which the whole community is involved in upgrading literacy in their own communities, with help from trained professionals in various areas of expertise, such as in medicine, in social work, in psychology, and in educational development (which could include the whole family's development).  Hours can be adjusted with a flexible mindset and a will to see it happen.  (When I was an active teacher, I had given inservice training to parents of students in my school in the evenings in the Media Center, on several occasions, so that those parents would become more literate in the teaching of reading skills, not only for their children but for their own advancement.  Part of the positive impact of having organized those parental meetings was that these parents, and their children, knew I cared about them enough to give my time in the evening, freely and without pay, and that did not judge them, but that I had only wanted to help the entire community improve its literacy. Caring is the first and most important step in creating a new reality for educational delivery because it gives people hope, once again).

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

@MaryElizabethSings @TruthReallyHurts @MajorDowning Not every adult will be in the program. There's plenty of able body folks available to serve fries. The idea is to educate them to get their GED and move forward in their lives. Employment and advancing in employment could be a draw.


I want Atlanta Schools to pilot this type of program because everything else that is being tried isn't working.


Thinking deeper as mentioned above professionals and retired folks can serve as the adult teachers and after school teachers.  Families would get the wrap around services that are needed to help them break the cycle of poverty. It's not about saving one family but an entire community. Atlanta would be so much better for it.


Can we get the bureaucrats to listen?  Thanks for the responses. 

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

@TruthReallyHurts @MajorDowning The working poor are one of the main targets. Folks are stuck in life without getting the right kind of education. Everybody's not college material but so many can attain real skills that can help make good honest livings. We've got to do something. We're losing generation after generation. The cycle of poverty, pregnancy and other ills has to be broken using education.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

@MaryElizabethSings @TruthReallyHurts @MajorDowning Not every adult will be in the program. There's plenty of able body folks available to serve fries. The idea is to educate them to get their GED and move forward in their lives. Employment and advancing in employment could be a draw.


I want Atlanta Schools to pilot this type of program because everything else that is being tried isn't working.


Thinking deeper as mentioned above professionals and retired folks can serve as the adult teachers and after school teachers.  Families would get the wrap around services that are needed to help them break the cycle of poverty. It's not about saving one family but an entire community. Atlanta would be so much better for it.


Can we get the bureaucrats to listen?  Thanks for the responses. 

newsphile
newsphile

OSD will be approved because there is money involved.  It's pay back for political contributors.

dg417s
dg417s

@newsphile OSD will be approved because of the deceiving ballot language. If you look at the actual amendment (and it was actually put on the ballot) where it says the OSD can take the local tax dollars in addition to state and federal funds, do you think that people would be so willing to vote in the affirmative? Does the Governor's unaccountable crony really know better than your local elected officials how to run your schools and communities? If you think the answer is yes, look at Detroit Public Schools and the City of Flint.

HILUX
HILUX

Voters will approve the Oportunity School District plan in November, because there really is no hope of failing school districts coming up with solutions on their own.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@HILUX


It looks to me like every OSD has failed to improve educational outcomes for our neediest children. Tennessee is even thinking about wrapping up it's OSD because the innovation in the traditional public schools has created better educational outcomes. Unless all you care about it putting our schools into the hands of those who wish to make a profit then I don't see why you would support such a drastic action.

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

e@HILUX And you think Gov. Deal, who is no Rhodes Scholar, has the answer? In fact, do you even trust him to put together a team of people who have the answer? I think not.