State Representative Jon Burns, August 5 column “Preparing for a New School Year”


State Representative Jon Burns


It is hard to believe that the students are already going back to school. The 2020-2021 school year has brought many unique challenges for students, teachers and their families – from distance learning to unconventional schedules. Dayle and I hope this upcoming school year will bring a renewed sense of normalcy to our communities as we move forward together.

In every session, the House Republican Caucus strives to support our students and teachers in and out of the classroom. We are passing budgets that prioritize education at all levels and legislation that keeps our Georgian students in the best possible position for the future. This session was no exception.

We passed Senate Bill 246, which protects parents and their rights to make decisions about the education of their children. SB 246 prohibits Georgia’s school systems, whether state or local, from regulating learning modules when a student’s education is primarily offered virtually. If virtual learning becomes necessary in the future, Georgian families need options that offer them support and structure.

We also passed Senate Bill 42, which allows homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities through the school they would enroll in if they attended public schools. To participate in these activities, the student must register for a course through their school system, which may include a dual registration course. There are additional requirements for participation, including requirements to complete the testing process that all other students complete. Home-schooled students are also expected to follow the same rules and regulations that students in traditional schools must follow while participating. SB 42 will allow parents to make choices about their children’s education while allowing them to participate in their community activities and local schools.

The education of Kindergarten to Grade 12 students continues to be the largest expense in our state budget, accounting for over 40% of state spending. After some tough decisions had to be made in 2020, the Fiscal Year 2022 budget restores most of a previous cut in QBE formula revenue, ensuring our students and educators get the funding they need.

Budget 2022 also restores more than $ 8 million to programs that provide direct instruction or essential educational services. Agricultural education received more than $ 500,000 in restored funds, while communities in schools, preschool services for the disabled and regional education service agencies received nearly $ 3.5 in restored funds. The budget also increases the lottery funds for the operation of preschool classes by $ 1.7 million, the first increase in operations since fiscal year 2010.

The budget for fiscal year 2022, which came into effect on July 1 of this year, also includes $ 58.9 million for Georgia’s university system. The university system has also announced that it will not increase tuition fees or compulsory student fees for the 2021-2022 academic year. The continued commitment to fund our colleges and universities and keep tuition affordable allows Georgian students to receive a high quality education after completing high school while keeping costs low for students and their families.

If you have any feedback, feel free to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or send me an email.

Jon Burns represents District 159 at the Georgia General Assembly, where he is the House Majority Leader.


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