If the General Assembly passes Senate Bill 464, the Georgia Senate could give educators the funds needed for classrooms.

If the General Assembly passes Senate Bill 464, the Georgia Senate could give educators the funds needed for classrooms.

  Last week, the Georgia General Assembly introduced Senate Bill 464, which could require the state’s Board of Education to establish a School Supplies For Educators Program. The program would work with the State School Superintendent and the Department of Administrative Services to provide funds for eligible educators to purchase school supplies online. Senators Clint Dixon (R,) Chuck Payne (R,) Shawn Still (R,) Shelly Echols (R,) Jason Anavitarte (R,) and Matt Brass (R) are sponsoring the bill.

In the United States, most teachers use their money to pay for classroom supplies. A U.S. Department of Education survey shows that 94% of teachers purchase classroom necessities out of their own pockets. According to a report from The National Education Association, educators spend an average of $500-$750 of their own money on supplies.

In its first summary, the bill states its goal “to amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to elementary and secondary education, so as to revise the “Georgia Early Literacy Act”; to establish the School Supplies for Educators Program.” 

In addition, it also requires finding a “user-friendly online ecommerce platform for educators to purchase school supplies; to require the Department of Education to establish processes for implementation of the program; to provide for educator eligibility to participate in the program; to provide for local school systems and public schools to certify educator eligibility; to provide for definitions; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

Last Thursday, senators Billy Hickman (R) and Clint Dixon (R) addressed the bill in a press conference on education reform.  Dixon discussed the bill during the conference, saying that the “status quo in education is no longer acceptable.”

“All of us should be concerned when we look at the recent published CCRPI data that was provided by the Georgia Policy Foundation,” said Dixon. “Our scores here in Georgia on average elementary schools are scoring at 75.9% which is a 5% decline since 2019. Furthermore, middle schools are scoring at 70.8%, which is an 8% decline since that same year, high schools are scoring at an average of 73.5%, which is a 6.8% decline since 2019. Looking at all the scores only 26.6% of our schools are scoring above an 80% average. Meanwhile, screening per pupil has increased by 27.5% since that same year.”

In a last-minute move, Senator Hickman added revisions to the Georgia Literacy Act that would address the universal screenings permitted in an amendment. “By June 1, 2024, the department shall publish on its public website the free universal reading screener provided by the department that each public school and local school system shall adopt and administer in order to comply,” the bill language reads. 

“We felt like it was very important that we are able to measure Chatham County against Gwinnett County, against Fulton County, against Forsyth County, all across the state. Very important to have one universal screener that all schools in the state of Georgia will use. Now they can use other screeners in addition to that, but very important that every school gets measured against every school so we took this thing very seriously.” 

Dixon is sponsoring the bill, which the senate passed on Feb 29 with a 52-1 vote.

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