Here are the issues and projects local government leaders presented to Hall County's state legislature delegation during Friday's meeting at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood.
Gainesville, Hall County schools
The Gainesville and Hall County school systems presented a joint list of what they considered to be "critical issues" to Hall County lawmakers. They asked the lawmakers to:
Resist legislative attempts "to reduce local board control," such as imposing mandatory start dates to the school year, student discipline issues and ability to levy taxes. The last issue refers to House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s proposal to replace school property taxes with a sales tax.
Give special consideration for districts with higher-than-normal numbers of immigrant children. The Hall and Gainesville systems far outpace neighboring districts in the number of Latino students. "Double standards regarding discipline, health and enrollment issues deserve the consideration of a legislative solution," the systems said in a two-page handout to legislators.
Halt the "seemingly endless stream of ever-changing unilateral requirements and expectations coming from" the Georgia Department of Education.
The school districts also asserted these key priorities coming from the Georgia School Boards Association:
Pick up the slack in education funding. The trend in recent years is for local school boards to pay more for education and the state to pay less, "thus (requiring) large amounts of revenue generated through the property tax."
Contribute more toward the cost of textbooks. The state now pays less than one-third the cost.
Gainesville State College
Gainesville State College focused on one major issue in its meeting with legislators: approval of a long-term construction plan for the University System of Georgia. If the plan is approved, Gainesville State would get funding in fiscal 2008-09 for planning and design of a new classroom building and money the following year for construction. President Martha Nesbitt said the building, which she has sought since 2002, would relieve overcrowding that has grown so severe that the college has won exemption from a state rule banning the use of portable classrooms on campus. "We have a desperate need for space," she said.
Lanier Technical College
Lanier Technical College president Mike Moye followed these Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education legislative priorities in talking with legislators about key issues:
Pursue funding for 2008-09 construction, renovation and other projects. Lanier Tech could use money for "minor repair and renovation." The college isn’t in line for any major projects until 2009-10, when a "high performance technology" building could come up for funding, Moye said.
Allow colleges to continue carrying forward from year to year revenue from certain sources. State law allowing that expires on June 30.
Change the name of the department to the Technical College System of Georgia.
Exempt college credit hours taken by high school students from the HOPE cap. The lottery-funded HOPE grant pays tuition for students meeting certain requirements.
Set aside $15 million for additional career academies. This year, the state awarded school systems forming partnerships with local technical college money to start up the academies as charter schools. Moye and Hall County schools Superintendent Will Schofield both said they would seek a grant if more money is set aside next year.