For Immediate Release
Friday, June 26
Georgia Legislature Shows Outstanding Support for Public Charter School Funding & Legislation
ATLANTA—Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA) is grateful to members of the General Assembly for ensuring public charter schools were treated fairly in the FY21 budget and for approving House Bill 957 and HB 755—two critical bills that will benefit Georgia’s public charter school students and teachers for years to come. We know these were not easy decisions in a budget year filled with challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. We’re thankful that state lawmakers made the decision to put students first.
“We want to express our gratitude to bill sponsors, House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Rep. Dave Belton and Sen. Matt Brass. We also want to thank House Education Chairman Rick Jasperse and Senate Education Chairman P.K. Martin. These lawmakers are true champions for Georgia’s children,” said Tony Roberts, GCSA President and CEO. “We also appreciate all of the state legislators who voted in favor of this crucial legislation. HB 957 and HB 755 enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support. These votes show that lawmakers in both parties favor financial transparency and understand the important role public charter schools play in improving the overall public school system.”
The revised FY21 budget approved by the Georgia General Assembly protects crucial funding for charter school facilities. Our public charter schools rely on these funds because unlike traditional schools, charter schools have the burden of paying facilities and maintenance costs. The loss of this funding would have been devastating in a year where charter school budgets are already stretched thin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charter School Facility Grant
Under the FY21 budget that gained legislative approval, the Charter School Facility Grant will only see a reduction of $4,000 (<1%) from the previous fiscal year. Just two weeks ago, a $2 million (57%) cut was proposed to this funding. GCSA oversaw an effort, along with our member schools, coalition members and advocates, calling on state lawmakers to ensure any reduction to the Charter School Facility Grant was fair. Lawmakers received 5,500 emails from students, educators and families asking them to restore critical funding.
House Bill 957
HB 957, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, gained unanimous passage in the Georgia Senate on Saturday, June 20. (Passed the Senate 42-0.) The bill is awaiting Gov. Kemp’s signature. The GCSA supported legislation codifies in law that charter school employees shall be included in the health insurance fund for public school teachers, updates the 2019 lottery bill, extends the term of SCSC Commission members, clarifies who is responsible for records of closed charter schools, and revises the deadline for virtual school audits. (Passed the House 165-4.)
House Bill 755
HB 755, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton, was unanimously approved by the Georgia Senate on Thursday, June 25 (Passed the Senate 50-0). The bill now heads to Gov. Kemp’s desk. The legislation requires local boards of education to provide local charter schools with annual allotment sheets that itemize how much local, state and federal funding is being provided to charter schools. It also requires 30 days’ notice before any allocation is adjusted. (Passed the House 163-4).
We’re extremely grateful for this critical legislative support, and we believe it will make a huge difference for the more than 77,000 charter school students in our state. Georgia Charter Schools Association will continue to work to ensure that all Georgia students have the opportunity to receive a high-quality public education.
About Georgia Charter Schools Association
The Georgia Charter Schools Association is a nonprofit membership organization for Georgia’s public charter schools and petitioners. Our mission is to advocate for, foster and support autonomous, high-quality charter public schools throughout Georgia. We believe every child in Georgia should have equal access to a high-quality, transformative public education.
CONTACT: Michelle Wirth
Director of Communications
Georgia Charter Schools Association