School spending plan to improve public education - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

School spending plan to improve public education

February 24, 2006

Albany-- Supporters say a new law that mandates how local school systems spend most of their money will improve education, but critics don't buy it.

The law requires school systems to spend 65% of their budgets on expenses directly related to classroom instruction. That could create big headaches for systems including Dougherty County schools, that don't currently meet that requirement.

Most Georgia school systems don't currently spend 65% of their budgets in the classroom, and some people say that hurts our schools.

"We have more kids now who are illiterate, more kids dropping out of school," says Albany high school, Anita Tunstall.

Governor Sonny Perdue and his supporters say changing the law will help reduce class sizes and improve education.

"We have some class sizes now, where kids are low achievers in classes of thirty-two," says Tunstall.

Tunstall says she could definitely use more instructional materials.

"Can you see how that actual money used for technology so that all classrooms are technology set up so the teachers can actually do something with it," says Tunstell.

Critics say there's no proof the bill will improve education. "Whether or not it's going to be a good bill, it'll take some time to tell," says Robert Lloyd, finance director for the Dougherty County school district.

Lloyd says some expenses that directly benefit students don't count toward the 65%.

"Librarians, counselors, teachers, training, students, support, systems all those are excluded from the classroom expenses," says Lloyd.

Dougherty County will have a tough time meeting the 65% rule. In 2003, the system put only 59.3% of its money into the classroom.

"Our indications show that we're in line with the same similar local education systems," says Lloyd.

Although some argue that the bill needs some work, others say the bill is a step in the right direction.

"Academically, if we don't pull these kids up, these kids are going to pay the cost," says Tunstall.

School systems have until 2008 to meet the standard.

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