November 10, 2015
RELEASE: Poll: Georgians support updated school funding formula
By significant margins, Georgians support efforts to modernize the state’s 30-year-old funding formula to a system focused on students, according to a poll commissioned by the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd).
“When Georgians hear the facts, they support common-sense reforms,” said Patricia Levesque, CEO of ExcelinEd. “They want to empower principals, administrators and local school districts with the flexibility needed to align their funding with their students’ unique needs.”
The poll found that a majority (56 percent) said they would be “more likely” to support reform if they knew it hadn’t been changed in 30 years. Two in three (67 percent) believe that we need to reform the way we fund our public schools so money is spent more efficiently.
“Georgia’s current funding formula perhaps worked well in the 1980s when enacted, but it’s every bit as out of date and inefficient as 1980s technology,” Levesque said. “We wouldn’t give up tablets and smartphones for Commodore 64s. In nearly every aspect of our lives, we constantly update. We should be just as diligent, if not more so, in modernizing how we invest education resources to maximize student outcomes.”
ExcelinEd outlines Georgia-specific needs for funding reform at upgradeeducationga.org.
This week, Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission continues its analysis and review of Georgia’s current K-12 funding system and the modernized alternative, student-based funding. Student-based funding bolsters transparency, efficiency and effectiveness and flexibility.
With student-based funding, all students receive the same base funding amount, and then some students receive an additional amount or weight based on their specific circumstances, e.g., students with special needs, English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged. Six in ten (59 percent) Georgia voters believe we should provide additional funding for these kind of students.
“A student-based funding approach bolsters transparency, efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility and voters place a high value on these components when evaluating public education” said Levesque.
Additional poll findings include:
• 89 percent favor improving transparency in how schools spend their money.
• 80 percent favor giving schools more flexibility in how they spend their money.
• 79 percent favor incentives for principals and administrators to spend money efficiently.
“This survey demonstrates strong support across partisan, ideological, geographical and demographic lines for finding a better way forward that provides more opportunity and greater academic progress for Georgia students,” said Levesque. “Georgia’s education leaders, policy makers and concerned parents can feel assured that they public support for a new system that prioritizes what matters most: our children.”
Methodology: McLaughlin & Associates conducted a survey of 500 likely general election voters in Georgia from October 21st to 26th, 2015. Fifty-percent (50%) of the interviews were conducted via telephone by professional interviewers and 50% were conducted online through a self-selecting representative panel of Georgia voters. Interview selection was random and interviews were stratified by county, race, age and gender to correlate with actual voter turnout from previous even-year general elections. This poll of 500 likely general election voters has an accuracy of +/- 4.5% at a 95% confidence interval. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations. Totals may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding and refusals.