Funding school construction
Holt, Donann Tubbs Clement
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The purpose of the study was to describe and explain Georgia school construction funding policies and their impact on high growth districts. The method was case study using four exceptional growth school systems in Georgia. Rapidly growing school systems commonly needed to construct many more new schools than they could expect to build through the state capital outlay program and local funds. Students in rapidly growing areas were routinely housed in portable classrooms. The study attempted to find whether there were areas of policy that did not sufficiently allow the capital outlay process to accomplish housing all students in adequate facilities. Interviewees included local school system administrators, two persons Georgia Department of Education Facilities Services Unit regional, a policy coordinator from the Governor‘s Office of Planning and Budget, and two state legislators. Data from interviews and documents were constantly compared. Findings were that Georgia has a viable capital outlay plan based on local facilities plans for each school system. The state provides equalized regular categorical grants and exceptional growth funding. Local revenues are bond referendums and special purpose local option sales taxes. Statutes prevent diverting of funds from the purposes intended. Legislative district boundaries sever local school systems. The application for funds process is well defined and well coordinated with no overriding areas of incompetence at local or state levels. The state appeared to be in violation of GA CODE § 20-2-260 (c) (1) & (4) in that there were no standards for minimum specifications for portable classrooms. Local systems diligently accessed state and local funds. Special appropriations in 2001 directed surplus funds across the state for a popular issue (classroom size reduction) rather than to house all students in permanent facilities in a few exceptional growth districts. Information systems did not report the number of unhoused students or percentage of overpopulation by school to the Office of Planning and Budget or legislators. Annual appropriations combined with local funding were not sufficient to meet statewide facilities needs.
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