Madison County Schools superintendent Dr. Mitch McGhee doesn’t expect any new news from the Consortium for Adequate School Funding until at least January of 2009.
Madison County is a member of this coalition of school systems that filed a lawsuit against the state in 2004 contending that a lack of funding has hindered achievement.
The consortium dropped its lawsuit in September, but is looking to re-file.
“I do believe they’re waiting for sometime after the new year,” McGhee said.
The consortium pulled its lawsuit against the state as a strategic move following the transfer of presiding judge Elizabeth Long from the case. Consortium leaders didn’t feel the case would receive a fair hearing from judge Craig Schwall, who took Long’s place. Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Schwall to the Fulton County Superior Court in 2005 and Schwall had previously chaired the Fulton County Republican party.
There are a number of counties in which the consortium can re-file, though that has yet to happen.
“We’re all kind of waiting to see … Nobody expects anything to happen until sometime after the new year,” McGhee said.
McGhee said it’s “purely guesswork on my part,” but thinks that consortium leaders might be waiting until the new state legislative session, which starts in January, to make its next move.
He said it’s a possibility that the consortium could strategize and re-file during that period.
“Maybe use it as a strategy when they’re starting to talk budget,” McGhee said.
Madison County — and all consortium schools — pay a $1-per-FTE (basically a dollar per student) membership rate.
For Madison County, that amounts to roughly $4,700 annually.
McGhee notes that’s down from a $3-per-student fee in year’s past.
That’s money well spent, McGhee says, if the consortium wins its suit.
“It’s a relatively small investment if we get it right,” he said.
McGhee got word from the consortium a few weeks ago that state attorney general Thurbert Baker had ruled that local boards could use taxpayer dollars to pay consortium dues. Perdue sought a legal opinion in September over the matter the use of that money.
McGhee said local boards were confident that Baker would opine in the consortium’s favor.
“We were told that this was a non-issue,” McGhee said.