Schools Lose Funding In State Budget
With just minutes remaining before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1, Gov. Tom Corbett signed a state budget that cuts more than $860 million or 13.6 percent from the state’s 501 school districts. The $27.15 billion budget reduced spending by nearly $1 billion over last year’s budget, and passed on a 109-92 vote strictly along party lines. The budget bill received no Democratic votes and two Republicans split with their colleagues to vote with the Democrats.
The 2011-12 budget slashed appropriations to Fulton County’s three school districts just as it did in all other districts of the state. Cuts were made to five major areas of the school’s budgets, including basic education funding (BEF), accountability block grants (ABG), charter schools reimbursement (CSR), educational assistance programs (EAP) and school improvement grants (SIG).
In the Forbes Road School District, the BEF was slashed from $2,856,307 in fiscal year 2010-11 to $2,732,785 in 2011-12, a reduction of $123,522. The ABG was cut from $88,185 in 2010-11 to $33,988 in 2011-12, a reduction of $54,197. Last year’s funding of CSR in the amount of $45,607 and EAP in the amount of $10,617 were completely removed from the 2011-12 budget. The net result is a loss of $233,943 or a 7.8 percent cut from last year’s state funding. The cuts amount to about $461 per student in the 507-student district. If there is any good news, it is that the House version of the budget added $157,389 to Forbes’ BEF over Corbett’s budget he proposed in March.
In the Central Fulton School District, the BEF was cut from $5,451,261 in 10-11 to $5,226,793 in 11-12, a reduction of $224,468. The ABG was cut from $169,492 in 10-11 to $65,326, a loss of $104,166. Again, last year’s funding of CSR in the amount of $58,809 and EAP in the amount of $31,818 were completely removed from the 11-12 state funding. The result is a loss of $419,261 or 7.3 percent from last year’s funding. The cuts amount to about $440 per student in the 953-student district. The final House version of the budget added $324,711 to the district’s BEF over Corbett’s proposed budget.
Southern Fulton School District’s BEF was cut from $4,577,748 in 10-11 to $4,245,408 in 11-12, a reduction of $332,340. The ABG was cut from $166,713 in 10- 11 to $64,255, a loss of $102,458. Again, last year’s funding of CSR in the amount of $32,262 was completely removed from the 11- 12 state funding. The result is a loss of $467,060 or 9.8 percent from last year’s funding. The cuts amount to about $372 per student (in BEF only) in the 894-student district. The final House version of the budget added $116,245 to the district’s BEF over Corbett’s proposed budget.
Critics of Corbett’s budget say that the massive cuts to education will force school districts to raise property taxes. In Fulton County, school taxes were increased slightly in both Central Fulton (.9996 mill) and Southern Fulton districts (.2313 mill), but remained unchanged in Forbes Road.
In addition to signing the budget bill, Gov. Corbett also signed Senate Bill 330 into law that calls for voter referendum on school property tax increases that exceed the index permitted.