Camden County Schools received news this week they were probably surprised to hear, a fully funded education formula.
Georgia’s school districts were expected to be short $167 million going into the next budget year and the restoration will provide local school systems with 100 percent of the state’s share of financing for local schools. The funding was made possible by higher than expected state revenue projections, according to Governor Nathan Deal’s office. Governor Deal has restored $9.6 billion in cuts since he has been in office.
Many lawmakers and state education officials called the funding of the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) historic.
“Thank you, Governor Deal for your proposal to fully fund QBE in the FY19 budget. This is great news and would be a historic investment in Georgia’s schools and students,” said elected State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
Since the austerity cuts started in 2003, Camden’s loss of state funding has been about $57 million. Camden’s total funding restoration is expected to be around $893,901.
This is welcomed news for Camden County Schools as it was recently reported the district may lose about $3 million in federal impact aid, according to Camden’s Board of Education February agenda. The district did not make the 35% federally connected student requirement. However, the full impact is still not known until local officials review the entire school budget for FY2019.
Camden County Schools finance department was appreciative of the restoration announcement but seemed cautiously optimistic, according to a news release.
The Board and leadership of Camden County Schools are pleased the Governor and General Assembly chose not to reduce state education earnings this year through the austerity reduction. Since austerity cuts started in 2003, $56,408,473.00 has been withheld from Camden’s education funding as determined by the state’s Quality Basic Education Act (QBE). The restoration of these earnings is welcomed right now. As the budget for FY19 continues to evolve and needs are matched with resources, the ability to add back roughly $890,000 we believed would be withheld from state earnings will soften some of the challenges we face including uncertainties with Federal Impact Aid.
These recaptured earnings will be welcomed also by taxpayers in Camden who contribute 29% ($2,457) of the per-pupil cost of educating students but more welcomed by the average county in Georgia where the local contribution rate is 40% ($3,853) of the total. As the chart below suggests, the per-pupil contribution by local, state and federal sources should be affected by the restoration of earnings and should increase the state’s share in Camden and across the state. Every district tries to decrease the local contribution and capitalize on funds available from state and federal sources. Camden has been effective in using less local funding compared to other districts and expects that trend to continue in spite of the potential loss of a portion of Federal Impact Aid Funding and now with the help of the removal of the austerity reduction.
The QBE formula was created in the mid-1980s and does not keep up with inflation and the current cost to educate students. Future legislative sessions are expected to update the formula with a new Governor to replace term-limited Nathan Deal at the start of 2019.