On January 21, 2015, Governor Deal made appointments to an Education Reform Commission. The purpose of the commission, as outlined in Deal's 2015 State of the State Address, was to review Georgia's education system and funding formula, and provide recommendations with possible legislative, executive, and agency action. Commission members were also assigned to five subcommittees: Funding; Early Childhood Education; Move on When Ready; Expanding Educational Options for Georgia Families/School Choice; and Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Compensation. Dr. Charles Knapp was named chair of the commission and also served as chair of the funding subcommittee. Click here for the commission members and their subcommittee assignments.

The Education Reform Commission, and the subcommittees, met regularly from February, 2015 until November, 2015. The commission presented a report, detailing a list of subcommittee recommendations approved by the full commission, to Governor Deal on December 15, 2015. Click here for the final report of the Education Reform Commission.

Governor Deal is expected to present proposed legislation, based on this report, to the General Assembly in January 2017. The funding recommendation is likely to be the focal point of the proposed legislative package. Currently Georgia funds K-12 public education through a program/teacher-based funding formula known as Quality Basic Education, or QBE. The ERC’s funding recommendation calls for replacing QBE with a student-based funding formula. The new funding method would consist of these components: a student base amount; funding for weighted student characteristics; and categorical grants for fixed administrative costs, equalization, charter systems, and state-commissioned charter schools. The proposal would also change Georgia's teacher compensation model for new teacher hires going forward. Teacher pay would no longer be tied to years of experience and education level, but would instead be based on a state average teacher salary. It has been suggested that this change, coupled with other recommendations from the commission, could open the door to a proposal from the Governor to tie teachers' pay, at least in part, to their performance in the classroom. 

There are other subcommittee recommendations that are likely to be included in the Governor's proposed legislative package. While many recommendations were met with widespread positive reaction, there are several that raise serious concern about the potential for harmful impact on public education in Georgia. Please stay tuned for the 2016-2017 legislative session which begins on January 9, 2017.