Reworking an education budget was the task handed to a group of educators and parents by state officials in a Wednesday town hall meeting at Greenbrier High School and 16 other sites around the state.
"A Community Conversation on Educational Excellence" was held by the Governor's Education Finance Task Force.
In it, the public was charged with setting education priorities by determining what programs to fund and what to cut.
"The (state) superintendent (Kathy Cox) wants to find out what the public feels are the priorities of education," said Laura Givens, a facilitator for the state Department of Education. "She wanted to see what people were willing to spend money on to meet those priorities."
Greenbrier High served as one of the host sites for the teleconference to discuss a new funding formula for education.
The first such meeting was held at 22 schools throughout the state, including Thomson High School, in January.
About 20 education officials and parents attended Greenbrier's meeting.
Divided into four groups, participants were given the budget of a hypothetical high school and charged with assessing which programs needed more funding and which programs to cut to provide those funds.
Columbia County School Board member Mike Sleeper called the event an "eye opener" and wished all parents could perform a similar hypothetical task.
"People tell me all the time they think we should have a foreign language program in all of our elementary schools," he said. "Well, that's great, but what are you willing to give up to make that happen? It's all a give and take, and if you fund one thing, then you're taking away from something else."
The data accumulated from each of the meetings will be sent to the DOE offices in Atlanta for analysis, Givens said.
Additional town hall meetings will be held, but Givens could not specify when.
The goal of the task force is to replace the Quality Basic Education funding formula, which assesses state dollar amounts to school systems based on pupil populations. Gov. Sonny Perdue has said QBE no longer works.
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