THOMSON - McDuffie County recently played host to the governor.
Gov. Sonny Perdue ceremonially signed Senate Bill 249 at Maxwell Elementary School in Thomson on Tuesday morning. It was his second visit to McDuffie County in as many weeks.
The bill provides school systems increased flexibility with certain state funds, as well as temporarily freezing maximum class sizes at their 2002-2003 levels to avoid a sharp increase in local property taxes, the governor said.
"This will allow faculties to come together and be able to have the freedom to reach the expectations and results that we have for education," Perdue said. "We don't want a top down, micromanaging, thumbs-on procedure on how to do it. We've got to leave some reasoning and some balance."
Gov. Sonny Perdue, surrounded by pupils at Thomson's Maxwell Elementary School, signed a copy of his education bill during a ceremonial visit last week.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
In past years, school systems were forced to give back any state funds that they could not use. Senate Bill 249 allows these systems to be more flexible with the funds, allowing several schools to use the money instead of just one.
"This matter of mutual respect is a big one as we empower classroom teachers across the state, as we give them flexibility this year to move around resources in different classes," Perdue said.
McDuffie County was one of many counties considering property-tax increases because of provisions that would have lowered the maximum class size to 18 from its current level of 22.
School systems such as McDuffie's would have had to furnish new classrooms and hire new teachers if the class-size limit was exceeded even by one pupil. With the signing of Senate Bill 249, McDuffie school officials are relieved.
"It gave us a little bit of flexibility which we badly need," said Superintendent Ed Grisham. "The dilemma was we were facing a significant reduction in state funding, but how could we at the same time implement these new levels in class size?"
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