School board to meet legislators, discuss funding
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
January 31, 2013 12:00 AM | 2400 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cherokee County Board of Education will meet with local legislators tonight to discuss the district’s legislative priorities and address how both sides will begin to work together to tackle another challenging year of decreased education funding.

The meeting will be at the Holly Springs Community Center, also known as The Depot, at 164 Hickory Road at 7 p.m.

Newly sworn in Board Chair Janet Read said she organized the meetiang with state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) to begin a more open dialogue with the almost entirely newly elected or newly reapportioned representatives serving Cherokee during this legislative session.

Hill and state Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), who represents a small portion of southeast Cherokee, are the only members of the county’s eight legislative representatives who have served Cherokee in previous legislative sessions.

The House District 21 seat is vacant, with the runoff election set for Tuesday to fill the seat.

The delegation organized a meeting with all local government bodies and department heads Dec. 6, but Read said she and former Board Chair Mike Chapman had prior commitments in Atlanta that day and were unable to attend.

“The biggest thing for me is there has been such a turnover in the delegation,” Read said. “I have stated repeatedly I would like to serve as the liaison between the delegation and the school board and am willing to reach out and have a dialogue with them.”

Up for discussion is the 2013 Legislative Program, which was approved 5-2 at the Dec. 6 board meeting, with board members Kim Cochran and Michael Geist dissenting

Hill said he is familiar with the document.

“There’s some good points in there and I think we all agree on all the points, it’s just how to accommodate them,” Hill said. “I look forward to any creative ideas on how they can be accomplished.”

Hill said he is “glad to listen” to the concerns and questions of board members and hopes they might bring innovative ideas to the table.

“We all have the same desires of course to do the best we can and get the best education we can for the students of Cherokee,” Hill said. “I think as everyone knows and has heard, revenues for the state are down and every department—with the exception of education—has been asked to cut by 3 percent… Unfortunately, Medicaid and other health mandates from the federal government are eating into our budget.”

Often during discussions of legislative priorities, school board members reflect back to a time a few years ago when the delegation would host annual breakfast meetings and call board members whenever legislation dropped on the House or Senate floor.

Read said she wants to get back to having that kind of relationship with legislators, despite the strained relations following years of funding cuts from the state leading to furlough days for all district employees, which are further exacerbated by decreases in the local tax digest.

“I know that the economy is not going to rebound overnight,” Read said. “I’m well aware of that. I just want them to understand where we stand financially, that the revenue is still a concern to us based on the fact that we have made repeated cuts in the past five years.”

Read said the school district still has to provide students with the best education possible, and hopes to achieve that through more open dialogue with legislators.

“They understand that we have concerns about the funding and we need to be able to educate our kids, and that takes money,” she said.

Hill said he would love to see more money for education funding, but “the money just doesn’t exist.”

“We have to be realistic and take the monies that do exist and use it in the wisest fashion possible,” Hill said.





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