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State Board Approves Flexibility for "School Year" for Certified Staff

 MEDIA CONTACT:   - Dana Tofig, , (404) 463-1487  - Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook     July 28, 2009  -- The State Board of Education (SBOE) approved today a recommendation to exercise its authority under state law to recognize an emergency and critical shortage in state revenue. This approval authorized local boards of education to depart from a strict interpretation of "school year" for certified staff for FY 2010.    State Board of Education rule  defines "school year" for certified staff as a minimum of 190 days. The SBOE's action this morning allows local boards of education flexibility concerning all school days in excess of the 180 days of instruction or the equivalent that is mandated by state law.   Governor Perdue's FY 2010 plan calls for a recommendation for local school districts to furlough certified personnel for 3 days and will withhold the equivalent amount of state funding. In order for school districts to legally consider non-instructional pre-planning days as furlough days, the State Board of Education had to approve flexibility of the "school year" rule.   "I am as frustrated as everyone else that declining revenue has lead to our teachers being furloughed," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “We ended last school year with great momentum and record student achievement and it’s unfortunate that we have to begin a new school year with this issue weighing on our teachers.”   There are other areas of state funding that were recently cut, as well. School systems will also see a 3% reduction in Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding, the main source of state funding for school systems to pay teachers and provide daily instruction for students. Equalization grants were also cut by 3%. These funds are provided to lower wealth school systems that do not generate adequate local revenue to provide students a “quality” education.   The Georgia Department of Education will see an additional 5% reduction to the FY2010 budget. Part of the 5% agency reduction includes funding to school systems in the form of grants, such as student transportation, school nurses and Career, Technical & Agricultural Education. The cuts also have an impact on GaDOE employees, who will be furloughed 5 days prior to December 31.   "I will be working closely with the Governor and state legislature to ensure that future budgets do not cut education more so we can continue to improve student achievement," said Superintendent Cox.