Dougherty County School Board Vice Chairwoman Anita Williams-Brown, with Superintendent Joshua Murfree, addresses an Education Legislative Session Monday. The school board met with local state Reps. Ed Rynders, Winfred Dukes and Carol Fullerton to discuss the system’s legislative hopes for the upcoming year.
ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree thanked local legislators for their past support and made his pitch for the system’s next priorities at a special legislative meeting Monday.
With state Reps. Ed Rynders, Winfred Dukes and Carol Fullerton in attendance, Murfree asked the legislators to consider a waiver request of tax law to be provided the system for a portion of special-purpose local-option sales tax revenues to be used for operational expenses exclusive of salaries. The system is expecting to see an anticipated $9 million budget shortfall next year.
“I know this is a toughie, but we’ve done our research and there have been other districts in the state that have gotten this special waiver,” Murfree said to the legislators. “We are going to be $9 million short, and we have to have some dollar bills somewhere for operational purposes when we find ourselves in a deficit.”
School Board Chairman James Bush said a SPLOST waiver was not what the public voted on in November, and any changes to the existing SPLOST structure would likely be a hard sell to the county’s voters.
“Public confidence has to be there to ask for that money,” Rynders said in response to Murfree’s waiver request. “You have the CRCT and school lunch situations going on right now. And, unfortunately for the Dougherty County School System, the public confidence just isn’t there.
“I think it would be a tough sell.”
Murfree pushed on with the rest of the system’s legislative wish list requesting:
that consideration be given to state revenue improvements over the past eight quarters be applied to restoring lost revenue equal to five days of staffing salary reimbursements directed at strengthening staffing for local schools;
that legislation be enacted to expand the compulsory education law so that students between the ages of 6 and 17 are required to attend school and that completion of the tenth grade be established as a minimal requirement before withdrawal;
that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s direction for providing a career academy in Dougherty County be met;
continued support for State School Superintendent John Barge’s direction toward the development of career pathways;
support for more meaningful measures of success for student and school achievement than those limited methods prescribed by No Child Left Behind.