More than 100 people are expected to share their views Thursday afternoon on proposed state budget cuts that could eliminate as many as 10 days from the 2010 school year in Liberty County.
Liberty County High School social studies teacher Amy Dilmar said attendees want to let area lawmakers understand the negative impact that losing school days would have on the academic success of students.
Sen. Buddy Carter and Reps. Ron Stephens and Al Williams are scheduled to attend the forum. Dilmar said it is the state’s shifting priorities and resulting budget cuts by the Georgia General Assembly that she wants to discuss with the officials.
“They’re already telling us they’re looking at state budget cuts that will result in 10 days being cut for students, on top of teacher furloughs,” Dilmar said. “When you ask those representatives [in Atlanta] what their priorities are, they say transportation and trauma care.”
For Dilmar and other educators, and likely many parents as well, the idea that public schools would be first on the chopping block is unacceptable.
“We know other people are suffering, but we can’t see education being the first thing to go. It has to be the last thing to go,” she said.
She added that she wants the representatives to find a connection with local educators and understand their concerns about eliminating even more time in the classroom.
The obvious drawbacks to cutting days include problems with child-care arrangements and transportation on students’ days off, as well as the issue of where students will spend their free time. “The community will see these kids on the street,” Dilmar said.
Additionally, she said, state mandates for applying research-based strategies in classroom instruction already take up a considerable chunk of time in the classroom; cutting back to a four-day week or shortening the standard school day would put more pressure on educators to adequately meet those state requirements.
“We’re mandated to implement strategies that take more time, but they’re giving us less time to do it,” she said. “It takes so long to fix something once you screw it up … Georgia’s already low on the totem pole [compared to other states’ education ratings].”
Dilmar estimated about 100 people will be attending the forum on Thursday, but she hopes that more community members come out to hear the discussion. “I don’t think the community really understands how significant this will be,” she said. “The community may not understand the voting [on budget cuts], but when they find out they’ll be upset and there will nothing they can do about it.”
The education forum will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the courthouse annex, room 200, 112 N. Main St. in Hinesville.