Rep. to BoE: Don’t blame state for problems
by Hannah Morgan
December 21, 2013 12:04 AM | 2050 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — State Rep. Don Parsons (R-northeast Cobb) told Cobb Board of Education members to stop blaming lawmakers for their money problems.

The state has been increasing its funding of public education for the past five years, Parsons said.

School board members met with seven of the county’s 21-person legislative delegation Wednesday to present their “wish lists” for the coming legislative session that begins Jan. 13.

Parsons expressed frustration over the “unfair criticism” from some school board members, who have blamed the state for their lack of funding.

What were the numbers?

Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is projecting a $79 million budget shortfall for the 2014-15 school year.

“We are on a two-legged school budget for funding,” Hinojosa told lawmakers.

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), delegation chairman, replied that, in fact, the state had increased its funding toward schools every year for the last five years, and that it was inaccurate to think otherwise.

Parsons said he was upset school board members would criticize them for not funding the school district adequately.

“There’s been a lot of criticism, and it hasn’t been fair,” he said.

School board member Scott Sweeney recently called on parents to threaten Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election if Deal doesn’t provide the system with more revenue.

Shift in revenues

The nation’s recession has hit the state hard, lawmakers say.

Cuts have been made across the state in order for it to balance its budget, said state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell), who is running to become state school superintendent.

“Revenue isn’t coming in, that means we can’t meet our obligations,” Morgan said.

Other departments, including the Departments of Labor, Corrections and Public Health, have seen 10 to 12 percent cuts each year, and education funding has comparatively seen much less of a hit.

“Georgians have faced tough times, but there is a commitment in the Legislature to education,” Morgan said.

Parsons agreed. While budget cuts were unfortunate, education remained a top priority for lawmakers.

“I wish we didn’t have to make those cuts, but we did,” Parsons said. “If we had fully funded education during these past years, according to what the budget office tells me, we would have literally shut down about 30 smaller agencies. There just wouldn’t have been any money there for them if we had fully funded education.”

Parsons said education funds had been cut about 8 percent during the recession, while the state’s revenue had dropped by 25 percent.

Parsons said he understood why the board members were bouncing the budget issues onto lawmakers.

“I think it’s always easy to try and deflect problems like that. I’m not going to point any fingers,” he said.

Telling parents to write to members of the Cobb Delegation and Gov. Nathan Deal wasn’t necessarily an effective way to change the budget realities, said Parsons.

“Gov. Deal cares very deeply about education in the state, and it doesn’t set well with me when I hear people in the county blame him for the budget cuts and exaggerating the amount of budget cuts we’ve had,” Parsons said.

Official: Former gov. didn’t value education

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue, who served from 2003 to 2011, began slashing education funding in his first legislative session in 2003.

Years before the country’s financial crash, Perdue authorized the cuts in education, which began a series of annual decreases in education funding which have withheld nearly $7 billion from state schools, said Tim Callahan, the spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest education group.

“We’ve really felt that the real intent was for the state to roll back their commitment to education and ask the locals to make up the difference,” he said, “There wasn’t any particular austerity.”

Perdue’s lack of commitment, Callahan said, has hurt students and teachers across the state.

“It’s wreaked havoc on our system,” he said.

Private meeting

After the forum, the Cobb Delegation retreated to what Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn called an “invitation only” affair with school board members, business people and county commissioners at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

Scamihorn said about 80 people discussed information on the district’s school budget, and brainstormed further ways to trim spending.

“I embraced his comments,” Scamihorn said of Parsons.

He said the board members would be focusing on working together with lawmakers, to get everyone up to speed on the realities of the school district’s budget.

“We are trying to find ways to find money and cut money, but it still isn’t enough. We are all in this together and we need to keep looking,” he said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 21, 2013
There is only one way to determine how much money is going into education and that is per student expenditures.

Since Republicans have taken over the state legislature, per student expenditures have gone down every year.

The student population has gone up every year. State spending has increased every year for education but not enough to keep per student expenditures from falling.

Rep. Parsons isn't trying to put a spin on the facts, he's just plain lying.
True Colors
December 21, 2013
There is a little secret that Don Parsons, Judson Hill, Earl Ehrhart, Sharon Cooper, and Ed Setzler don't want you to know. They are members of a extreme right wing group - ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council. Ehrhart, Hill and Setzler all have leadership positions with ALEC.

ALEC's mission is to defund public schools and promote for Profit Charter Schools and Vouchers. Bills for both have passed in recent years with the help of Cobb's State Delegation.

I have emailed my Cobb State Reps - 'Who do you represent the people of Cobb County or ALEC." Funny I have never received a reply. I guess they represent ALEC.

Our public schools should be non-partisan NOT a political football between the left and right.

Vote the Cobb Delegation OUT OF OFFICE and get someone who cares about our kids.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides