School Funding

Faced with a threatened lawsuit over the way Georgia funds public education, Gov. Perdue challenged a task force to design a new system that strives for excellence, helps poor systems deliver the same quality as wealthy ones and doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand.

Perdue said the complicated funding formula now in place, prescribed by the state's Quality Basic Education Act, is 20 years old and was designed at a time when the state wasn't as big or diverse, and aims too low.

The governor said, “Today, 'basic' doesn't cut it. I just don't think 'basic' is good enough for the citizens of Georgia. At the end of the day, I believe most all parents expect excellence and desire excellence for their children.”

He gave the 24-member task force no deadline other than to say, “the sooner the better.” He also gave the panel no specific guidance on whether it must work within the present tax structure or may explore ideas to increase the take from state and local tax sources.

State Rep. Jeanette Jamieson, a Democrat from Toccoa and one of the task force members, said that's the key question.

She said, “Are we expected to deliver a different approach to excellence in education within the parameters of the same funds that are available now? If so, I think our task is going to be daunting, at best. If we can look at new and different ways of funding public education in Georgia, then I think that leaves us with an open process.”