What's Missing from the Budget
June 25, 2012
The General Assembly has presented a budget for the 2012-2013 school year. With this budget, our schools are being asked to operate with fewer dollars to employ school-based personnel while serving 12,000 more students in the coming school year.
What the budget includes
- A 1.2 percent increase for teachers;
- A reduction of a little more than a quarter in the so-called discretionary reduction, meaning school districts will have to return to the state $359.7 million of the dollars appropriated to them by the General Assembly instead of the more than $500 million that was previously scheduled; and
- New funds have been provided for third grade reading support.
What is not included in the budget that will have a major impact on local schools
- $259 million in federal EduJobs money used to support school-based personnel is gone and will not be replaced, money sufficient to pay some 5,400 school-based employees (before these positions were paid with EduJobs dollars they were paid with state funds);
- Local school systems will have 80 percent less money than they have had in the past to purchase textbooks and other instructional support materials;
- Money for instructional materials and supplies has been cut by 40 percent, meaning teachers and parents will have to dig even deeper into their own pockets to make sure classroom tasks are accomplished or students will have to do without;
- No new dollars have been included to support after school or summer learning opportunities to prevent summer reading learning loss in the early elementary years, kindergarten, first and second grades, despite new retention policies at the third grade;
- We are asked in the budget to give a letter grade to our schools but no funds are included for the test needed to evaluate or grade our high schools after ninth grade.
Our public schools served will serve 12,000 more students in the coming school year than they did they year before. We will soon surpass 1.5 million students. With all of these things missing from the state budget, how will our schools be able to maintain our all-time high graduation rate, continue the upward trend in student progress, and maintain a high-quality learning environment for every child?
June St. Clair Atkinson