Polk County is one of the school systems participating in the Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia.
A press release issued from the governor's office states that Perdue has requested an official opinion from Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker on the legality of local school districts using taxpayer dollars to fund a lawsuit against the state over education funding.
In his letter to the Attorney General, Governor Perdue cited this provision in Georgia’s constitution:
"[s]chool tax funds shall be expended only for the support and maintenance of public schools, public vocational-technical schools, public education, and activities necessary or incidental thereto, including school lunch purposes." Ga. Const. Art. VIII, Sec. VI, Para. I(b).
Perdue further stated:
"Taxpayers in these school districts need to know that their education tax dollars have been used to pay lawyers suing the state instead of in their children’s classrooms.
“My hope is that in the future decisions on school funding will be made through the public policy process, not in a courtroom where the plaintiffs’ lawyers are paid with local education tax dollars to battle defense lawyers paid with state tax dollars,” Perdue said.
The governor's letter also cites Georgia Supreme Court rulings which, according to Perdue's office, "have clearly stated that expenditures that are neither necessary nor incidental to education are not permissible under the Constitution."
A list of the districts that have joined the consortium, according to its website at www.casfg.org , follows: Bacon County, Ben Hill County, Berrien County, Brantley County, Bremen City, Brooks County, Calhoun County, Charlton County, Chattahoochee County, Clarke County, Clay County, Clinch County, Coffee County, Commerce City, Crawford County, Crisp County, Dodge County, Echols County, Effingham County, Elbert County, Griffin-Spalding County, Irwin County, Jefferson County, Jones County, Lamar County, Long County, Madison County, Marion County, McDuffie County, McIntosh County, Meriwether County, Miller County, Montgomery County, Murray County, Oglethorpe County, Peach County, Pierce County, Polk County, Pulaski County, Randolph County, Schley County, Stewart County, Tattnall County, Taylor County, Toombs County, Towns County, Treutlen County, Wayne County, Wheeler County and Worth County.
Based on the Governor’s request, State School Superintendent Kathy Cox is recommending that districts not use public school funds to pay dues to the Consortium for Adequate School Funding until this constitutional question is resolved.
The governor's office further stated that if the Attorney General determines the school systems’ expenditures are unconstitutional or illegal, "Georgia law will require Superintendent Cox to recover misspent state funds from the offending districts either through settlement or court proceedings" (per OCGA §20-2-36).