State attorneys calling for a lawsuit brought on by school systems to be thrown out wasn’t an unexpected move, Madison County school head Dr. Mitch McGhee said.
“That was not a surprise …,” the superintendent said. “Georgia isn’t the first state to have a lawsuit such as this. They’ve been fairly prominent of late across the nation. That’s usually a standard practice that the state takes.”
Madison County Schools are part of a consortium of systems seeking legal action against the state for what they feel is inadequate funding. According to a Morris News Service report, the state’s lawyers asked for the case to be thrown out last week during a dismissal hearing at a Fulton County Superior Court.
What would be a surprise, McGhee said, is if the lawsuit was actually thrown out.
“Because there is quite a bit of evidence, at least, that should make it go to trial,” he said.
Unless it’s dismissed, the case will go to trial Oct. 21.
The state’s position is that it gives sufficient money to education, but school systems in the 50-member consortium that have joined the legal fight say that the state isn’t holding up its end of the funding equation for education.
“They don’t fund their own formula,” McGhee said, pointing to years of austerity cuts that haven’t been replenished as evidence of a lack of state funding.
The formula in question — Quality Based Education (QBE) — is nearly 30 years old. McGhee said very little or no inflation has been factored into that equation, adding that the formula was “pretty ridiculous.”
So there’s the argument, McGhee said, that even if the state fully funded the QBE formula, it still wouldn’t be enough to adequately educate Georgia’s students.
Still, the state claims that it’s doing its job financially, pointing to an increasing amount of dollars going toward schools.
But the consortium argues that most of the money being put into education is to handle growth of the student population and the increase in teachers needed in Georgia. When excluding the money for growth and salaries, the state is actually spending less money on schools for things like maintenance and operation, consortium leaders say.
“Most legal experts believe that they (the consortium members) have very solid ground,” McGhee said.
Still, even if the courts do rule in the consortium’s favor, it would take quite a while for that to turn into education dollars.
“There’s still a lot more that’s going to have to be done before you can see any real effect … They would have to figure out a way to adequately fund it, and that could take years,” McGhee said.