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BOE votes on legislative priorities
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The Newton County Board of Education approved its list of legislative priorities for 2013 last week. The list will be distributed to local legislators in the hopes they will consider the board's wishes throughout the year as they vote.

Vision Project for Public Education
The Newton County School Board of Education supports the Vision Project as the vehicle to raise awareness, address issues and enhance public education in the State of Georgia. For more information

Local Board Authority
The Newton County BOE identified that local boards of education should maintain authority making educational decisions since they are the level of government closest and most responsive to the taxpayers and parents of the children being education in their respected community.

Program Funding
a. The BOE supports legislative proposals which appropriate funds needed for a quality basic education on a weighted FTE student cost-basis.
b. The BOE believes that any program, project or requirement mandated by stategovernment should be funded by the state in such a manner that operation or implementation of the mandate does not impose financial or other burdens on local school districts.
c. The BOE supports restoring full funding to public education and ceasing state austerity reductions.
d. The BOE supports requiring a clear and complete description of the potential impact of state education legislation on the fiscal budget, operations and programs of local schools and school districts.

The BOE urged the General Assembly to fully fund the training and professional development needs associated with implementation of any state mandated instructional initiatives.

Improving Student Achievement
The BOE supports efforts to improve student achievement through a collaborative effort between the Department of Education and local school districts in the development of a challenging and dynamic curriculum that allows for flexible instructional models to meet the needs of all students.

Federal Legislation
The BOE urged Congress to reduce necessary mandates and regulations on schools.

Board Chairwoman Abigail Coggin and Vice-Chair Shakila Henderson-Baker worked together on the priorities. During discussion, District 2 representative Eddie Johnson expressed a desire to add to the priorities something that would prohibit the use of handguns on school property by educators and allow it only for law enforcement officers.

Although there are laws currently that prohibits firearms on school property, following the shooting at Sandy Hook in December 2012, many lawmakers began talking about allowing teachers and administrator the ability to have firearms in school as a means of protection.

While Johnson said he was in favor of taking "a leading role" in letting legislators know the BOE's stance, other members were not so keen. Coggin said she was not ready to make that decision and District 4 representative Almond Turner called the suggestion "premature."

Ultimately the board agreed on the priorities without Johnson's suggested addition.