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Area leaders get legislative update

Ken Buchanan

CHAMBER BREAKFASTMembers of Brantley County’s legislative delegation told those gathered at the post legislative breakfast sponsored last week by the Brantley County Chamber of Commerce that the legislature was able this year to spare school systems the 3-percent across-the-board cuts that were applied to all other state departments during this year’s session.

Sen. William Ligon and Rep. Chad Nimmer spoke at the event held at the board of education meeting room Wednesday.

Ligon also said 108 days were restored to the state’s pre-kindergarten programs and $156 was added to the education budget for future growth.

The senator also pointed to legislation passed this year to crack down on pain pill mills which he said had moved into Georgia following crackdowns in surrounding states.

Ligon also took advantage to once again speak out against the Common Core Curriculum which he say surrenders local control of education to Washington.

He said the approval of the CCC was premature and made without any cost analysis which might have determined that the cost of testing could rise from $5 per student to $30 per student online and $37 if taken the old-fashioned way with paper and pencils.

Testing, which will drive the curriculum at schools, will be determined by people outside of Georgia, Ligon said.

But the senator also said that $8 million was restored to technical school funding in the HOPE scholarship program.

He pointed out that $52 million has been pumped into the state’s equalization fund for low-wealth schools that “just can’t afford” the costs of state-mandated programs, but chamber president Tim Sawyer said that much of that money was going to systems — especially in metro Atlanta — that don’t need it.

Both officials agreed that rural Georgia just doesn’t have the numbers to compete with metro Atlanta for state funding.

Nimmer said that he rejects the “two Georgias” mentality that separates the satte into two parts — Atlanta and surroudning areas and the southern half of the state, adding that instead in fighting with those areas, rural representatives should make sure they sit at the right tables to make a pitch for their areas, touting what they have to offer whenever they get the chance.

“There is life outside the median of I-285,” he said.

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