More funding for Pre-K, social workers among priorities for state leaders from Savannah-Chatham County School Board

Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2023 at 6:18 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - At the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System leaders approved priorities they want from state lawmakers that could impact your student’s school.

Board members have several issues they want the state’s General Assembly to take up in 2024, including more program funding and expanded age requirements for school enrollment.

“These aren’t just legislative priorities for us. These are priorities we believe would help every Georgia citizen,” District 6 School Board Representative, Dr. David Bringman said.

Among their requests to state lawmakers is more funding for Pre-K programs and school social workers.

The National Association of Social Workers recommends a ratio of one school social worker for every 250 students.

The district says they currently have only one social worker for approximately every 1,400 students.

“We pay for the majority of those social workers that we even have. The state pays for a miniscule amount,” District 7 School Board Representative, Michael Johnson said.

The district also wants changes to the ages your child is required to be enrolled in school.

“Modify from age six to 16 as the mandatory requirements. Modify that to before first grade and the 17th birthday,” District 1 School Board Representative Denise Grabowski said.

The third priority of the board is expanded use of ESPLOST dollars and a review of other funding methods. Several members called current funding formulas outdated.

“We have very limited flexibility to be able to modify how those ESPLOST dollars are utilized when we face major news announcements like a big Metaplant that’s really exponentially increasing our population,” Grabowski said.

It’s unclear what, if any, of the priorities lawmakers will take up when the General Assembly is back in session next year. Many of these priorities are similar to the ones board members asked for during the 2023 session.

Next Tuesday, school leaders are set to meet with the Chatham County legislative delegation to share these priorities.