Local school budget cuts are the new normal

GBPI Executive Director Alan Essig discusses education budget cuts in school districts across the state with 11Alive News Reporter Donna Lowry.

ATLANTA — The new normal in Georgia’s public schools is doing more with less. The budget cuts that metro school boards must make these days are here to stay, according to the independent, non-profit Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

“It’s going to be the same story next year and the year after, because unless we’re going to find $1 billion some place,” said Alan Essig, Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

“This status quo that we’re having now with shorter school days, higher classes, furlough days, shorter school years, all the ways the local districts are managing their budget shortfalls, all of that will continue,” Essig added.

How did Georgia get to this point?

First, nearly a decade state cuts to education. Ten years ago the state contributed 60 percent of school district funds.

“Right now, it’s 50-50,” Essig said.

On top of that, systems must cope with a significant drop in local funding.

“As a result of the great recession and the housing crisis we’re facing, a huge drop in property taxes across the state,” Essig said.

Third, and new this year: the state is no longer paying health insurance for non-certified employees such as bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers.

“All of those things combined are causing significant budget deficits in schools across the state,” Essig said.

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