Fayette School System’s money woes can be solved starting with our local legislators


Last week, I reported that our excellent Fayette County schools are reducing 73 positions with 70 of those being in school positions. In fairness, its important to note that our school system is dealing with financial issues that are somewhat outside their control.

I have written before about how Fayette’s property tax base skews toward a higher percentage of senior citizen property owners which limits the amount of school property tax available. And recently we have all heard how the homestead exemption voted in by we taxpayers have further limited the available funds.

However, when the state of Georgia deducts the “5 Mills Fair Share” as our minimum local cost of public education, it deducts 5 mills of the gross digest before considering that over 20% of our tax digest is locked away by homestead exemptions for the seniors and now the 3% growth limit. Based on the FY 2024 QBE allocation, over $35 million was deducted from our state funds.

Simple math says $7 million less ($35 million x 20%) should have been taken given twenty percent of our digest is locked away in homestead exemptions. Even simpler math says that if each school based position costs $100,000 with pension and benefits cost, the seven million dollars over deducted equals the 70 school based positions we are now reducing.

To be clear, this is a simplification of a overly complex situation, to provide context to the taxpayer. With the recent bills based by our legislature, these problems will begin to manifest in other districts over time unless we partner with our legislative leaders to address this flaw.

In simple terms, the QBE needs to be fixed so that the “Five Mill Fair Share” is based of the net digest (what is actually taxable) verus the gross digest (without exemptions). This is not arguing for anything more than what is fairly due from the state of Georgia based on the existing law.

For many years, Fayette’s taxpayers have paid higher taxes to provide our schools with the resources they need. Now, we taxpayers are still paying the higher tax rate and having to cut school resources.


Below are the representatives both Senate and House for Fayette County. I have purposely left out party, because it should not matter. Good schools are something we all can come together and agree on.

While I am certain that there are ways we can more wisely spend our school dollars, we can’t let a broken system cause us to unnecessarily reduce our wonderful schools.

Please contact this legislators and ask them to work to fix the QBE and make the “Five Mill fair share” based on net digest after homestead exemptions.

[Neil Sullivan is a finance/accounting executive and CPA. He has lived in Peachtree City over 20 years with his wife Jennifer, a Fayette County History teacher, and son Jackson, a student at Erskine College. He has been active in public school related issues in Fayette County, leading three E-SPLOST initiatives as chairman of Fayette Citizens for Children.]


  1. Alas another uninformed cheep shot at funding following the student instead of funding a system overly influenced by teacher unions who advocate for teachers not students.

    The Monopoly of government education is broken. It always cries that more money will fix the problem and it always (almost) gets it yet the problem persists while giving parents no choice or control. Bureaucrats rule and children suffer.

    The wave hitting the legislature is millions of concerned parents who want their right to steward their child’s education returned to them. Bravo! Concerned parents are the best parents and know better than any bureaucrat what is best for their child!

    And to dispel the gaslighting – funds going to give parents choice don’t cost those enrolled in government schools.

    Remember YOUR tax dollars don’t ever become the government’s! They are always yours and you should be able to direct them for the best education of your child. Whatever government, private, home or parochial school you choose. Parents, not bureaucrats , should be in charge.

    Fund students not systems!

    • Hi Al:

      You may have missed my article on that exact point. We agree. However, we must deal with the now.

      Actually the wave hitting is 25% of Georgia Schools ( the lowest performing ones ) now getting $6,500 each pupil to direct their education. Sadly EVERY one of neighboring Clayton County schools are on the list.

      If we gave each student $6,500 to find the school that fits them best, I would submit that our excellent Fayette County schools would have more money as the local tax would be spread over less students.

      My student had an IEP and we took advantage of the SB10 voucher program to get him the right environment. I know choice works, but I also strongly support our excellent Fayette County schools. I believe the choice is not OR but rather AND

  2. Since 2008, when Georgia decided to impose massive cuts to public education budgets (Pre-K to College), Georgia has only fully funded public education 4 times, since 2008; an Georgia has never fully funded higher education. Our local elected representatives have had numerous opportunities to fund public education in Georgia; time and time again, they have made the decision to cut public education and to provide tax dollars to parents, who want to send their children to private schools, in the form of vouchers. This places all of the fiscal responsibilities in the lap of FCBOE and the voters. This is why, we have SPOSTs. This is why FCBOE strives to extra as much money as possible via property taxes. The citizens of Fayette County recognize the importance of education. As a community of upper middle-class, education is most likely allowed all of us to achieve our current status in our society. And we recognize that we want our children (and children in general) the opportunity to achieve a measure of success via education. Unfortunately, Fayette County has decided to hitch its wagon on Senior Citizens, who for the most part, exercise their rights specific to property tax homestead exemptions. Georgia encourages homeowners (62 and above) to refuse to support for public education, basically pulling up the ladder behind them. If you want our elected Representatives, who have basically done jack squat on behalf of public education since 2008, to help public education; how about they basically resource ALL of the funding that they cut from the public education budget for the last 16 years, to include Pre-K, K-12, and especially for public colleges and universities.

  3. I notice (once again) that no one is presenting actual funding amounts, just percentages, etc. Given that property values have increased dramatically over the past 10 years, our schools may be getting far more $ than they were in 2014, when they were doing a good job by all accounts.

    I suggest that one important metric (perhaps the most important) is inflation-adjusted per-student funding. If the schools are getting 10% more but inflation is up 8% and the student count is up 7% they have less $ per student to work with (and the reverse also applies). Can we get those #’s for this discussion?

    I’d also argue that even if the schools are getting less $ than previously that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t well funded. We should look at how much money per student they get and what they’re doing with it. I think I remember the number being something like $13k per student – if that’s right a classroom with 20 students has $260k available. That seems like quite a bit, although I’m certainly open to the possibility that it isn’t as generous as it seems – for example there are probably Federal (and possibly State) mandates that swallow a fair amount of the funding.

    The natural reaction of any organization is to defend its funding and pursue more, and I expect the
    BOE to highlight any data point or statistic that is favorable to their case. It’s up to us to dig a bit and figure out what’s really necessary.

  4. In the 70s I went to the same elementary and middle school my father did during the 1930s. Dad said the elementary school was considered old when he went. It was the great teachers not the building that laid the foundation for my engineering degree from Ga Tech. The palatial buildings are nothing more than monuments to the school board.

  5. Mr. Sullivan, your letters have generated an increasing amount of interest regarding our Board of Education, and being an “exempted” citizen I have to say that our rates have been in effect for some time. My point being the BOE was well aware of impending revenue reductions due to an aging community.
    Take for example purchase of the property for the new Booth Middle School and the subsequent construction costs that were solely borne by Fayette County taxpayers costing well in excess of sixty million dollars. Arguably, refurbishing the old Booth(which was done anyway) could have sufficed, but it was a determined BOE that refused to consider any alternatives. Perhaps it is high time to hold those we elect accountable.
    My children have benefitted greatly having attended Fayette County Schools as have thousands of others, and as a long time resident I must say that it was (and still is) the professional competence of the teachers who made that possible, not the administrators. Prioritizing administrators over those working in the classroom does a grave injustice.

    • Hi Councilman King

      I hope you are well. We agree on the most part. I will be covering the coming primary race soon with the general to follow. You will remember I had quite a lot to say about the decision to take ESPLOST funds to build new Booth (aka Hollowell Middle) not disclosing before the public voted. But as you know SPLOST funds cannot be used for operations (yet).

      In this case, the amount of the digest not taxable due to BOTH the senior exemption and now the 3% cap has put more money off limits. BOE sources says its 33% although I do not have that from Commissioner King so I am using a more conservative estimate.

      Both our families have benefitted from our wonderful schools led by our dedicated school teams. I wrote last week on the poor decision to hit the schools more than central office in the cuts. I received 29 private messages including DMs on Twitter and Instagram. People are upset especially our teachers.

      This article shows there is a way forward to atleast tread water. But next week we will talk about how ever rising costs will continue to challenge our schools. Then we will do a few weeks of primaries.

      Take Care,