Taxpayers spend billions of dollars each year on Georgia’s public k-12 schools, but none of the state’s education dollars goes specifically to kids from low-income families who often struggle in class, State Affairs has found.

Georgia is one of only six states that do not factor low-income students into their annual school-funding formulas – even as roughly one-third of Georgia’s roughly 1.7 million students in county and city public schools were classified by the state as living in poverty last year.

The omission has prompted some state lawmakers and policy experts to call for overhauling Georgia’s complex funding formula for schools. Others doubt the General Assembly has enough political will to change the 40-year-old system that decides how to spread more than $12 billion among 2,300 local schools.

“We haven’t had someone take a hard look at what kids need, at least since I’ve been following it,” said Stephen Owens, a senior policy analyst with the nonprofit Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) who focuses on education issues. “I think it comes from a fear that we will be shown to be far behind.”

In this story, State Affairs digs into Georgia's complex model for funding public schools and how many of the state's neediest children miss out on extra funding.

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