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Education Policy

Fair Funding for Excellent Schools in Georgia

black girl with hand up in front of blackboardStudents’ futures should not depend on their race or ethnicity, family income or neighborhood.

IDRA advocates with communities for funding solutions that ensure all students have access to excellent schools.

Learn more about IDRA’s work to ensure fair school funding for all students below.

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The lack of equitable funding has been a decades-long problem for many schools that serve students of color, emergent bilingual students and students from families with limited economic resources. Consequently, the result is underfunded school systems where, despite a school’s best effort, many students receive a poor quality education.

Students, families, communities and entire state economies benefit from schools that are excellent and equitably funded. By championing and ensuring fair funding for all students, state policymakers send the message that each child is worthy of receiving the best quality education.

Historically, Georgia has spent well below average in per-pupil school funding compared to other states in the nation. Funding in Georgia has not only been lower than other states in the South and across the United States, but it has also not recovered from the decrease in funding that occurred from 2008 to 2012 as a result of the Great Recession.

Even at “fully funded” levels, such as in 2020, Georgia’s education funding formula, the Quality Basic Education Formula, produces school funding far below other parts of the country. Furthermore, in the most recent version of Georgia’s state budget passed in 2021, the Georgia General Assembly returned to the trend of cutting funds by slicing nearly $1 billion from the Georgia Department of Education’s budget (with over $950 million coming at the expense of local K-12 districts) from the QBE formula. Although the 2022 budget restores nearly $600 million of these cuts, the $338 million cut that remains still represents the 18th year of the last 20 that Georgia leaders will be underfunding education based on Georgia’s own formula.


Inequitable Funding Hurts Georgia Students

Unfair funding in the classroom for emergent bilingual students, students from families with limited incomes, and other student groups means fewer educational resources for needed programs, up-to-date technology and equipment, and sufficient teaching support.

Policy Recommendations for Georgia

To ensure fair funding in schools Georgia education leaders should:

  • Conduct a cost study and update Georgia’s antiquated old funding formula to reflect provide the appropriate funding needed for students to attend excellent schools. This process should include input from the communities and students that will be most affected.
  • Protect the state budget from continuous cuts and identify additional sources of tax revenue that may fund public schools and establish new funding streams to alleviate property tax pressures and disparities.
  • Ensure that funds are equitably distributed based on need so that students attending schools in areas with the most challenges receive the most funding support.
  • Provide additional funding for students that come from families with limited economic resources. Georgia is one of only eight states that fail to provide additional funding for these students.

For more information, contact Terrence Wilson, J.D., IDRA Regional Policy and Community Engagement Director (terrence.wilson@idra.org).

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