A new proposal supported by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce could overhaul statewide rules on class size, staffing and teacher salaries for public schools in Georgia. Under the proposal, individual school boards or principals would be in control of how financing is dedicated at their school, according to the Florida Times Union.

The proposal is being called student-based funding and is said to be based on each student’s needs rather than statewide staffing formulas. In theory, high school students would qualify for more than elementary school students and so forth and schools that have a high number of handicapped students or a greater need for tutors would get more money than those with a larger number of average or above-average students.

The individual school board or principal would control financing and have the power to offer larger paychecks to attract and retain sought-after teachers, make decisions on what supplies to purchase for classrooms and determine overall school material needs.

Currently, only the state can make such changes and it must make them for all schools in the state. That process has been in use for 27 years and advocates of the proposal say that’s long enough.

“Some would tell you that the answer is more money. In this economy, the simple fact is that the state does not — nor will it at any time in the foreseeable future — have the ability to significantly increase the amount of funding dedicated to education,” wrote Chamber President Chris Clark in the introduction to a 48-page report the organization released in November. “This led the Georgia Chamber to ask an important question. Is it possible to create better outcomes within the current financial restraints?”

The report’s release included a quote from Gov. Nathan Deal that suggests the plan may have legs.

“It’s heartening to see organizations like the Georgia Chamber stepping forward to contribute to our work in this area with the type of research and policy thinking reflected in this report,” he said. “The report and its recommendations deserve serious consideration.”

A commission the governor appointed two years ago just wrapped up a review of the current funding formula established in the Quality Basic Education Act of 1985.

The commission’s recommendations will come before the General Assembly when it convenes Jan. 14.

Read more http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2013-01-07/story/georgia-public-schools-could-move-student-based-funding

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