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Education notebook: Scary math for public schools

The organizer of the “inadequate school funding” lawsuit, in which several school systems — including Crawford County — have sued the state for a way to get increased funding, says drastic changes are needed to prevent public education from going bankrupt.

Joe Martin, executive director of the Georgia School Funding Association, says that since fiscal 2002, state support to local school systems has increased by about $1.3 billion, or 23 percent, but during that time, student enrollment has increased 13 percent and inflation costs by more than 20 percent.

As a result, the per-student, inflation-adjusted funding has decreased by about 12 percent from 2002 to 2010, Martin said.

By another measure, the state provided about 60 percent of the combined total of state and local funds a decade ago, but only about half today.

If the trend continues, Georgia’s schools will have to increase the number of students per teacher by at least 15 percent during the next two years or decrease teacher salaries, he said.

“If teacher salaries remain the same, there will have to be a decrease of at least 14,000 teaching positions across the state,” he said. “The support for our schools has never been what it ought to be, but the continuing and accelerating cuts have now created a crisis.

“We know that every state has run into trouble, but Georgia is the only state in the union besides Hawaii to resort to statewide teacher furloughs.”

Martin says the state is ignoring its constitutional duty to provide an adequate education for every student in Georgia, and he suggests a few different things, such as ending some tax exemptions and considering new ways to generate state tax revenue.

Clements to run again for Houston school board

Houston County Board of Education member Griff Clements has announced that he will run for re-election in November.

Clements is an at-large member who represents District 6 in Houston County and has been on the school board since 2003. “I want to work with the new school (and the) new superintendent, whoever he may be,” Clements said.

Clements is one of four school board members whose seats are up for re-election in 2010, along with Fred Wilson, Marianne Melnick and Helen Hughes.

Central and Mount de Sales take academic bowl

Teams from Central High School and Mount de Sales Academy, both in Macon, won first place in the 24th annual Middle Georgia Invitational Academic Bowl at Macon State College on Feb. 26.

The tournament gives top students an opportunity to display their academic skills, according to a news release from Macon State. Teams from 11 public and private schools in six Middle Georgia counties competed.

Central’s team won the public school division. The team comprised Shreyas Vangala, Manu Bansal, Keith Russ, Justin Stephens and Kenneth Russ. Their coach is teacher Stan Brown.

Second place was the Jasper County High School team.

Mount de Sales Academy’s team won the private school division. The team comprised Joe Boltri, Katy Hutto, Zach Morgan, Kiki Sneed, William Underwood and T.J. Wilkason. Ron McLachlan was their coach.

Stratford Academy in Macon came in second.

Wesleyan College to hold art history forum

Wesleyan College’s ninth annual Georgia Undergraduate Art History Forum will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the school.

The conference, sponsored by the Georgia Undergraduate Art History Consortium, will feature presentations by Georgia undergraduate students covering 50 centuries of art history, and it is open to the public.

The forum’s featured speaker, Mary D. Edwards of the Pratt Institute and School of Visual Arts in New York, will discuss “The Mission of Saint Lucy as Told in Fresco by Altichiero, 1379-84” at 11 a.m. A scholar of late medieval, early Renaissance, modern and Native American art history, Edwards holds a doctorate in art history from Columbia University.

Edwards will also present the plenary session Thursday at 6 p.m. in Room 104 of the school’s Murphey Art Building. She will also discuss Duccio’s “Samaritan Woman at the Well from the Maesta in Siena (1308)” Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the school’s events page at www.wesleyancollege.edu.

Bibb school calendar survey online

If Bibb County schools parents want the 2011-12 school year to start Aug. 8 or Aug. 11 and have their children take either a couple days off or the whole week off for Thanksgiving, they’d better speak up.

The school board adopts its academic school calendar two years in advance so employees and families can plan vacations and child-care arrangements.

The system is now asking for parent and teacher input, on the system’s Web site, on four proposed school calendar options for the 2011-12 school year. The survey will be up until April 4.

Visit http://schools.bibb.k12.ga.us/publicrelations and select the academic calendar survey link.

Local teachers get $20,000 grants

A local power company awarded Middle Georgia teachers with grants totaling $20,000 for innovative programs in their classrooms.

Tri-County Electric Membership Corp. awarded 20 Bright Ideas grants to teachers funded from unclaimed capital credits.

Some of the winning grants are:

Blandy Hills Elementary teacher Joycelyn Hill, in Milledgeville: $1,274 to set up various learning stations in the classroom to help students learn in different ways.

Dames Ferry Elementary teacher Patti Hobby, Jones County, $1,172: to use puzzles, games and other educational materials to create a hands-on learning environment in her classroom.

Gray Elementary teacher Jennifer Beaver, Jones County, $938: to schedule a professional singer and songwriter to host a writing workshop with students.

Grad test kickoff to be held at Northeast

A kickoff to get students ready to take the Georgia High School Graduation Test is being held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Northeast High School, 1646 Upper River Road in Macon.

The event is open to all Bibb juniors and seniors who have not passed the GHSGT, a state exam that students have to pass in order to get their high school diploma. Students take the exam this month. The free event will feature a “surprise celebrity,” organizers say. For info: call Julia Daniely or Rhoda Batieste at 779-4100 or 779-4193.

Houston BOE chooses local GSBA representatives

The Houston County Board of Education unanimously chose member Marianne Melnick to serve as a local delegate for the 2010 Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly in June. In the same motion, the board chose Fred Wilson as Houston County’s alternate.

The board also nominated member Skip Dawkins as the GSBA District 12 director in a 6-0 vote, with Dawkins abstaining. District 12 covers Baldwin, Bibb, Butts, Crawford, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Monroe, Peach, Putnam, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties. District directors meet quarterly, manage the affairs, adopt policies and transact business for the association, among other duties.

Compiled by Telegraph staff writers Andrea Castillo and Julie Hubbard.

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