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Petruzielo: More Funding Needed From State

The state has lost millions of dollars it was owed by the state over the last 10 years.

Over the last 10 years, the Cherokee County School District has lost $147 million in funding it's owed by the state under the Quality Basic Education formula. And, this year, the school system is expected to lose another $26.5 million.

"We're not talking about chopped liver here," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said during a work session with the Board of Education on Thursday evening. "This is not small change. And, if it's $26.5 million here, you can imagine what it is state-wide."

The QBE formula was created in 1985 as a way to solve the problem of inequality between rich and poor school districts following lawsuits filed in California and Texas.

"You still get to supplement a kid's education with local dollars but you don't have the problem where the rich kids have three times the amount of funding as the poor kids," Petruzielo said.

However, over the last 10 years, Petruzielo said state lawmakers have viewed QBE funding as "optional" as reductions in the dollars owed to local school systems -- called austerity cuts -- have occurred.

The state also has cut the money it sends to school systems for projects and other expenses. For example, Cherokee County schools get $2 million a year from the state for transportation, an expense that costs the district $17 million each year.

And, the school system gets only $8 million a year from the state for capital outlay projects, which Petruzielo said is enough to build one elementary school every three years. That's why the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is so important, the superintendent said.

"If we didn't build all the schools we have here, you'd have 4,000 kids in your high schools and 3,000 in your elementary schools," he said. "We'd be the trailer capitol of the world."

And, in addition to that, Cherokee County's digest has declined $30 million since 2008-2009 because of the economic downturn.

"The only way to deal with this crisis is to receive state dollars," Petruzielo said.

In the past 20 years, three different state study commissions were formed by Georgia governors and legislators to evaluate and reformulate the QBE formula, but no significant changes were recommended or implemented, Petruzielo said.

"It's almost laughable when this happens," the superintendent said.

In 2010, the State Education Finance Study Commission wrote in a summary report to the Governor that "QBE is a valid and appropriate vehicle for funding schools."

"I'm pretty sure that's not what the Governor wanted to hear," Petruzielo said.

And, now school system officials are looking at a new funding issue. If the fiscal cliff occurs, Petruzielo said the state will lose $38.8 million in Title 1 funding and $26.6 million in special needs dollars.

Locally, that amounts to $300,000 in lost money for every 5,000 students for a total of $2.4 million. These areas are where money is needed the most, Petruzielo said.

"These are the kids who are at risk," he said. "These are the kids who are farthest away from the target. These are the kids who need the most help."

Petruzielo said he thinks a lawsuit against the state regarding QBE funding is inevitable.

"I think it's just a matter of who's going to do it and when," he said. "Until the economy comes back, I think we have to work as cooperatively as we can."

Jim Beam December 07, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Where does Frank think the state is going to find these magical millions of dollars? Now that election season is over and Frank's politicking against Amendment 1's passage has failed miserably, perhaps he will manage to go down to the Gold Dome and search for these missing millions, rather than complain at meetings about it. As the superintendent, he should have plenty of weight to throw around down there.
No More Bullies December 07, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Do you happen to know what the law (QBE) says in this case, or should we just ignore that little detail?
Jim Beam December 07, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I know what reality says about the availability of more funding during a time of recession. Why complain to the board - why not complain to the Gold Dome instead?
Frank Jones December 07, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Steely...Finding the money isn't magic! It's a matter of priorities! The state could end the subsidizing of private schools by ending the SSO project which diverts over $50 million annually to private schools. The state doesn't need exempt the first $130,000 of retirement income of a married couple from taxes. That's $7,800 per couple and 10's of millions per year. The state doesn't need to provide disproportionate funding to charter schools. That'll be millions per year...and oh yeah, CCA just approved a 15% admin fee for CSUSA! The state doesn't need to fund a new, special job at GPB for the Chipster. OK, that's not a million, but still it's unneeded. The state doesn't need to provide tax credits for the movie and film industry in Georgia. The state gives the industry more credits than they can use and then sells the excess credits. The state gives $200 million or more in film credits annually. The list can keep going...But don't for a moment think that there isn't money available! It's just that Gov. Deal and the General Assembly have an agenda and it isn't to support the traditional public schools.
Sweeney December 08, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Yup, go after that retirement money that's already been taxed and retaxed. You libs cant keep your grubby little hands out of anyone's pie, can you?
Jim Beam December 10, 2012 at 02:50 PM
-Ending SSO wouldn't generate a dime towards public schools and again, your hatred of all alternatives to public schools shines through since SSO helps provide an alternative for those students wanting something other than public school mediocrity. - Charter funding isn't disproportionate. Charters do a fiscally-better job with their funding than do public schools. Public schools need to do a better job of per-child spending than they're currently doing. -There are too many county admins and supers across the state. They're unneeded, esp. during budgetary tightness. Fire most of them immediately and instantly save millions. End all contractual perks immediately. -Tax credits for movie & film end up generating income for Georgia. It's incredibly short-sighted to think that ending these credits, which would cause this industry to relocate elsewhere, would have a positive impact on funding. Exactly the opposite would occur. It's quite telling that nowhere do you suggest fiscal tightening in the state DOE. I'll help: -The GA DOE needs to cut more fat out of their $25 billion spending. Stop sending so many of our tax dollars to out-of-state, for-profit companies that supply the school systems - keep that money in-state. -Supers, Admins, and Teachers should be personally funding the doomed-to-failure "Ballot Wording" Amendment 1 lawsuit. What a frivolous waste of tax $$ that will be. The list can keep going.
nick December 10, 2012 at 04:37 PM
here's an idea, how about we stop all new school construction for the next 5 years?
Kristal Dixon (Editor) December 10, 2012 at 04:47 PM
School construction projects are funded with SPLOST dollars, which is different than revenue CCSD gets from the state. So, stopping construction would have very minimal impact on the district's operating budget.
No More Bullies December 10, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Charter schools don't provide all the services that traditional public schools do, so of course they spend less money (but spend disproportionately more on administration). Try providing transportation, school nurses, fully staffing for all special needs students and see how you compare? FYI-- The entire state of Georgia budget isn't $25 Billion, much less the DOE (It's about $7 Billion). Where do you get this stuff????
Jim Beam December 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Ooops - that was a typo, NMB. I've used the $7 Billion number you cited often and elsewhere. Charters provide as much for special-needs as public schools (if not more). Public schools in general do a disastrous job with special-needs kids, as numerous articles on the subject have detailed. Where do you get this stuff??? If districts approved charters and provided them with the same funding that public schools use, charters would surely use transportation. It's humorous that you are on the side that denies charters appropriate funding...and then complains that charters don't provide the same services since they don't have the funding. Charter schools have nurses as well. Where do you get this stuff?? Charter schools don't yet hire teachers who cheat on standardized testing though. Public schools are far ahead of charters in that arena.
No More Bullies December 11, 2012 at 03:37 AM
True charter schools should receive funding for services they do provide. Did you or did you not staff your school clinic with parent volunteers rather than hiring a nurse last year? I hope you hired one this year, since the State gave you $16,000 to do so. The original budget and plan for CCA called for limited transportation. The school is operating at full budget now, isn't it? Why not add in the transportation? Or does the management company control that decision-- surely the parents would vote to add it over giving the company an increase in fees. Plenty of data on the special needs component, nationwide and particularly in Florida. The funding for Cherokee Charter Academy and CCSD students, on a per pupil basis as calculated by the State of Georgia using apples to apples data, shows CCA spent $260 per child less than CCSD in 2011-12, when the $383 per child transportation cost for CCSD is removed (which keeps the cost comparison valid). Now remember, last year Charter Schools USA covered a big budget gap for CCA and "didn't take a management fee." So this year, with a $900 per child managment fee definitely being drawn, the best CCA can hope to do is $700 MORE per child than CCSD. See the expenditure spreadsheet on the state Dept of Ed website for fiscal year 2012.
No More Bullies December 11, 2012 at 03:48 AM
And as for "teachers who cheat," you do realize one of the APS schools cited in the cheating scandal (that you love to reference) was a charter school? The AJC's nationwide analysis (using the same methodology that led them to expose the APS situation) found "improbable" test score increases were twice as likely to occur in charter schools than in traditional public schools. Charter schools in Los Angeles and Pennsylvania are under investigation right now for cheating. Charters are not immune.
Monty Brewster December 12, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Fuzzy Math...
Monty Brewster December 12, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Charters don't even hire teachers to teach in some cases. Preach it, Dan! Who needs teachers when you can just pay someone off the street to do it for much less?
Jim Beam December 13, 2012 at 12:13 AM
NMB, you've got me confused with someone else who actually has a child in a charter school. I do not, as I've stated many times before. I simply wish I had the choice a decade ago - my son would've surely got a better education that the mediocre one he received in the CCSD schools he attended. I've not heard of any charter school using parental volunteers for nursing. Do you have any evidence of that? Sounds like more of the same load of nonsense you TPS fans keep trying to sell. How'd that work out a month ago? How'd it feel to see both Ds and Rs vote for more school choice and less status quo? You NO voters should've read the ballot more closely rather than desiring to continue a system that produces so much corruption and failure. Charters aren't immune from cheating. Those that do should be closed immediately. Too bad public schools don't follow that formula - they just beg for more $$ and stay open, to the detriment of the children they allegedly "educate". Did any APS schools actually close? APS is hardly the only school in GA that cheats - they're just the ones incompetent enough to get caught! Monty- how'd those "accredited" teachers work out for APS? LOL!!! So much for that hiring process!
No More Bullies December 13, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I didn't mean you had a child at the school when I called it "your school." Evidence of no school nurse last year: http://www.cherokeecharter.org/schoolinfo/CCAQandAJuly11.pdf See bottom of page 2. You're welcome. I asked if one had been hired this year? There sure is a push for volunteer hours in the clinic. The QBE allocation sheet for CCA lists $16,000 in funding for a school nurse. How is that money being spent? Is CSUSA just keeping it?
Jim Beam December 13, 2012 at 04:11 PM
NMB, if you are that concerned/curious about those issues and have those questions, why are you asking an anonymous father of a kid not in that school on a website for answers rather than contacting the school directly for such info? here - this was pretty easy to find: http://www.cherokeecharter.org/contact/default.html. You're welcome.
No More Bullies December 13, 2012 at 04:34 PM
You're right, you are clearly not a good source for accurate information about charter schools. My apologies.
Christine Rea December 13, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Dan, I happen to know CCA used/using parental volunteers for nursing! My children attended CCA last year for the first half of the school year. All the school nurse(s) they used were parent volunteers that were nurses. A friend of mine, another former CCA parent, and a neighbor, yet another former CCA parent, were both nurse volunteers at the school. Surprised you didn't know this considering your involvement with CCA and GCEF. As far as both the Ds and Rs vote for more school choice and less status quo; when you deliberately confuse voters, you get mistakes. The passage of A1 is a giant mistake.
A B Alcott December 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I completely agree, Dan! Why even have teachers at all? They are just self-serving cheaters. Probably all liberal too. We don't need them spreading any more liberal propaganda than our kids already see on TV because we as parents don't spend enough time with them. This whole disaster of an economy we have is because of the teachers. We should follow Chip Rogers' lead and go to a fully automated education system via internet/computers. That way we will then control everything the kids learn about. Get rid of all that science crap too!
Jim Beam December 13, 2012 at 06:56 PM
No less accurate than your myths about alleged non-service of special needs children, etc. Therein lies yet-another difference between us, NMB: I never did consider you a good source of accurate information for anything. http://www.cherokeecharter.org/contact/default.html. http://int.ivyprepacademy.org/contactus/ Try contacting the above about charter schools rather than making useless, anonymous posts on the patch. Christine, the passage of Amendment 1 is a great victory for parents and children. The only confused voters were the losers in the NO crowd when you awoke to find that a huge majority of the state is united in its dislike & disgust with the very educational mediocrity you fought so hard to preserve. And lost. Badly!
Christine Rea December 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Danny, Two of my children have IEP's for speech. During their time at CCA, 5 months, they had 3 different speech teachers. When we returned to our TSP, the SLP received back the exact same envelope she had sent to CCA with their records. The envelope had never even been opened! Because my children were shuffled around between 3 different speech teachers, and not one of them was attentive enough to realize the IEP's were about to expire, both children returned to their TSP with an expired IEP. Now THAT is a "disastrous job with special-needs kids", and that was a Charter school. These articles speak volumes as to Charter schools failing to meet the needs of its special education students. http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/georgia-doe-blasts-georgia-cyber-academy-threatens/nTBmZ/ http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/georgia-cyber-academy-assailed-for-missing-special/nS5sH/ http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/11/14/georgia-cyber-academy-is-virtual-charter-ignoring-real-problems-with-special-ed-services/ http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/11/14/georgia-cyber-academy-responds-to-state-board-concerns-doe-not-providing-assistance-or-clarity/
Christine Rea December 13, 2012 at 09:52 PM
And then there is this, Danny. Considering in the last 24 hours both of these articles have been published regarding charter renewals and closures, I'm sure there will be many a voter who will, if not now, soon have voters remorse. http://hollysprings.patch.com/articles/charter-high-prepares-to-fight-fultons-school-closure-push-3fff96cb http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/12/12/aps-watchdog-delves-into-charter-school-chain-with-history-of-problems-yet-aps-board-considers-renewal/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blo
Jim Beam December 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Christine, I seriously doubt any voter will have remorse over wanting to improve the nation's 48th-ranked educational state. And spare me the statistical obfuscation about the % of students who take the SAT test: Georgia is 10th of the 12 states that test at least 70% of their students. Given the complete disaster that is our traditional public school system - best seen with APS and the numerous other school & board scandals around the state - I doubt anyone will lose sleep over a single charter school's situation. Too bad public schools don't close when they fail...of course, if they did, there'd be very few schools remaining open in the metro area, including a # here in Cherokee County. Thanks to years of traditional-public-school neglect, we're in sorry shape with nowhere to go but up. In spite of the short-sighted greed and ignorance of the NO crowd, 'up' is where GA is headed. Did you enroll your children in a public school? If so, I hope they don't get treated like numerous students in this Atlanta PUBLIC school did: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/parents-of-special-needs-students-say-school-district-covered-up-abuse/ So much for the myth that traditional public schools are a great place to enroll special-needs children. Not sure of the veracity of your experience but at least your children didn't get physically abused by teachers the way the kids in that Atlanta PUBLIC school did. I'm sure that teacher got a raise.
Monty Brewster December 14, 2012 at 04:18 AM
So take your charters to Atlanta, where they may actually be needed. But oh..wait. Then it wouldn't be as profitable as the more affluent, better educated areas.
Christine Rea December 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Danny, I can assure you there will be people who will lose sleep over a single charter school's situation. It will be the parents who enroll/enrolled their child/children in a charter school, then realize said charter school is providing them a sub par education. These same parents are the voters that will have remorse. Regret that they were duped by ballot verbiage; and consequently their child/children are struggling. You wouldn't know anything about that though, your son never attended a charter school.
Mike payne February 13, 2013 at 02:55 PM
I have two kids at Cherokee Charter and feel blessed that if the school does not meet my expectations I can change schools. All you anti-charter people got blew out in the election, the people have spoken loud and clear. School choice is here and we are a better State for it.
No More Bullies February 13, 2013 at 04:05 PM
If you take a look at candidates who support charters or the amendment, and their respective elections, it is a TOTALLY different picture. Look at the photos from the bill-signing event for the amendment's legislation, held at Cherokee Charter: Chip Rogers- gone. Sean Jerguson- gone. Charlice Byrd- gone. Kim Cochran- gone. Danny Dukes- loser.

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