The mission of the Georgia School Boards Association is to ensure excellence in the governance of local school systems by providing leadership, advocacy and services, and by representing the collective resolve of Georgia’s elected boards of education.

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Catching Up

It’s been a while since we “talked” about what’s been happening, so it’s time to catch up!  As always, we’ll break it up by topic so if you’re not interested in something, just keep on going.

If you haven’t listened to our latest podcast, just click on the link.  We talked with Matt Jones, Chief of Staff to State Superintendent Richard Woods about the standards review process, budget cuts, and more.  For more information on the standards review process, the Department of Education has a page with the survey results, a downloadable flowchart, and more.

As educators and policymakers have discussed school safety, the need to address mental health issues always comes up.  GSBA is holding an Education Summit on Student Mental and Emotional Health on October 8th at the Cherokee County Educational Services Annex to dive into this issue. The day includes several breakout sessions, so there’s something for everybody.  It is open to all, not just school board members, so I hope many of you will join us. Just click on the link for more information. 

As state-level work has continued on this issue, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Speaker of the House David Ralston, and Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton just named the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform & Innovation Commission members.

One more note on the broad subject of safety, late last week, the Trump administration released a School District Safety Guide.  

Budget 

By now you all know that when the Governor issued the budget instructions for the amended FY ’20 and FY ’21 budgets, he directed the agencies to cut 4% from the amended budget and 6% from the FY ’21 budget.  By the way, FY ’21 is a 2% addition to the 4% cut in the amended budget, not 6% plus the 4%. Governor Kemp exempted QBE from these cuts. Effective yesterday, October 1st, the state will withhold 4% as it distributes funds.

Why is he doing this?  There appear to be two reasons. 

First, Governor Kemp campaigned on streamlining government services and cutting costs.  As we’ve noted before, he’s been consistent on following up on those campaign promises. It seems that his focus was on starting the streamlining process not on cutting personnel.  The problem is that the Appropriations Committees have been cutting and streamlining for several years as they and former Governor Deal worked our way through the Great Recession and aftermath. So finding $200 million to cut from the budget just passed without cutting jobs will not be easy.  Cutting $300 million from the FY ’21 budget will be even harder.  As you are well aware, the vast majority of the budget is in personnel.Second, revenue was up and down in the latter part of FY ’19.  Just in case that was a leading indicator or warning that trouble is on the horizon, the Governor wanted to be conservative about the spending this year. As a matter of fact, the first two months of FY ’20, the revenue has been down ($97 million worth of down).

In response to the Governor’s instructions, the Joint Appropriations Committees held hearings last week to learn more about the issues and plans.  The state economist — among several economists — and Director of the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) spoke, but the rest of the executive branch was silent.  OPB posted summaries of submitted plans for AFY ’20 and FY ’21. The Committees continue to seek more definitive information.  Generally, this part of the budget process is behind closed doors.  Agencies submit their proposed budgets to OPB in September, the public sees the Governor’s recommendations in the first week of the session, and the House takes it from there.

So why is revenue down?  There are several issues impacting revenue.  In 2018, the General Assembly cut the top income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% through 2025.  That doesn’t sound like much but it shifted $500 million from the state coffers to our wallets. Second, the changes to the TAVT distribution between the state and local governments have kicked in.  That’s an estimated $200 million shift from state to local overall.  Additionally, we have had several weather events, tariffs, changes in global trade, among other things.  

Gov. Kemp sets the revenue estimate, so ultimately, he will decide how much money we have to spend.  How we spend it will, sooner or later, be a joint decision of the Governor and General Assembly.

Study Committees 

There are several Study Committees going on this fall that we are following including High School Athletic Associations, Community Schools, Financial Efficiency Star Rating, Higher Education Outcomes, Educational Development of African American Children in Georgia, Heat-Related, Cardiac, and Other Sports-Related Injuries, and the ongoing work of the House Rural Developmental Council. Most have held only one meeting so far, so we won’t go into detail (you’re welcome).

In addition, House Education held an informational meeting for its members.  During the session, new members to the Committee asked for more information on the Professional Standards Commission, QBE, and other topics, so they got it. 

Workforce Development 

We talk a lot about this in the state, so here are a couple of articles from McKinsey & Company that might be helpful.  The Future of Work in America takes a look at the differences in the potential for work for different people and places across America.  Georgia’s Quick Start program is cited as one example of addressing the issue. Maps on pages 9 and 12 will give you a glimpse of the essence of the report.  

For those of you working to change things in your current workforce, Getting Personal About Change might provide some helpful information.