published Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Immigration law could cut funding for schools

by Kelli Gauthier


• Dalton City: 68 percent

• Whitfield County: 38 percent

• Calhoun City: 30 percent

• Murray County: 20 percent

• Gordon County: 15 percent

• Catoosa County: 3 percent

• Walker County: 2 percent

• Dade County: 1 percent

Source: Georgia Department of Education


Parts of law now in effect:

• People who use counterfeit or false information to get a job in Georgia can be charged with aggravated identity fraud and face up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

• A seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board is established to investigate complaints about implementation of HB 87 and sanction agencies or employees failing to implement the law properly.

• Every public employer shall register and participate in the federal work authorization program to verify employment eligibility of all newly hired employees.

Parts blocked by a federal injunction:

• People who, while committing another criminal offense, knowingly and intentionally transport or move an illegal immigrant can be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the first offense.

• Law enforcement officials can ask to verify a person’s immigration status and use any reasonable means to determine that status if that person is believed to have broken a law.

Although a federal judge temporarily has blocked some of the more controversial components of Georgia’s tough new immigration law, some anxious Hispanic families already have left North Georgia, leaving school officials wondering about the impact on fall enrollment.

There is no way to know how many students in North Georgia school systems are in the country illegally, but school officials suspect that some of their Hispanic students and families will leave the state to avoid the possibility of deportation.

“In fact, some teachers feel that the enrollment is going to be down,” said America Gruner, president of the Dalton-based Coalition of Latino Leaders.

“A lot of people got afraid and they didn’t wait, so as soon as the school year finished, they left already or they’re leaving. They’re selling their furniture at the flea market and preparing to leave.”

School districts receive state and federal funding for each enrolled student, so decreased enrollment could mean lower overall funding. Georgia spends about $8,000 on each student.

Officials in Whitfield County, where nearly 40 percent of the student body is Hispanic, already have received questions about next year’s enrollment.

Schools spokesman Eric Beavers said there is no way to know whether the immigration law will affect enrollment before school starts in August.

“Until we see people in the buildings, we won’t really see what effect the law may have had,” he said. “For our planning purposes, for staffing, based on history, the last three years have been pretty flat, so we were planning for about the same number of students.”

Steve Williams, chairman of the Dalton Board of Education, said he has heard that commerce at Hispanic-owned businesses has gone down 40 percent to 60 percent.

“Fewer students means fewer dollars sent to us by the state ... and that could impact employment within the school district itself,” he said. “But it also could involve fewer local property tax dollars collected.”

In Dalton, the potential Hispanic exodus could affect the district’s plans for addressing crowding at Dalton Middle School, Williams said. Right now, district officials are considering options such as leaving all sixth-graders at elementary schools, or creating a districtwide sixth-grade academy. If the system has a large decrease in Hispanic enrollment, those plans might be abandoned, Williams said.

“We also may not have to do much construction in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington, who said the immigration law will put unnecessary new burdens on small-business owners to verify electronically their employees’ immigration status, said he doesn’t believe the town will have the dramatic decrease in population that some people fear.

Since the economic downturn began several years ago, the school system has expected to lose enrollment every year, but it actually has grown.

“I think [the immigration law] has created some unwarranted hysteria,” Pennington said.

about Kelli Gauthier...

Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...

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nucanuck said...

If we could only deport ignorant people, no matter their place of origin, we could definately have a better country.

July 3, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.
SeaMonkey said...

it seems that "ignorant people" get it, nucanuck. funny how sometimes the "educated" and the self-proclaimed enlightened among us don't get it, or refuse to aknowledge the truth. They're not supposed to be here. the new term "non-criminal illegal immigrants" is the perfect example of how the left trys to muddy things. i'd rather be around "ignorant people" who tell it the way it is, rather than be around a bunch of lefties who pretend to have the best interests of the "illegal immigrants" at heart, but really need them to see their agenda through.

seal up the borders...use the military to do it. stop using the term immigrant, they're illegal aliens/ illegal entrants/criminals......calling them immigrants is an insult to those who come here the right/lawful way. toss those who hire them in prison for a mandatory sentence.

not only are they criminals..they're in our face taunting us at demonstrations.

the saintly status you lefties bestow on them is sickening.

July 3, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Wilder said...


Numbknucks either works for the newspaper as an agitator, or for the Catholic church as a Latino Tokyo Rose, and will experience the same success as she did.

Dalton's newly elected state senator's political career is over. His recent statements on Georgia's immigration law have been captured and widely circulated among his constituents. Dalton's electorate has wised up to the carpet cartel, and outnumber them exponentially. Signs in the yard aren't going to win the next election.

Anyone who knows Pennington, knows that he talks out of both sides of his mouth. I don't know why he wanted to be the mayor of a town in ruins anyway, but his political career is also over, like it or not. Dalton's electorate is sick of him also.

July 3, 2011 at 11:42 p.m.
BajaRat said...

Seems like a lot of taxpayer money would be saved by throwing out all the invader offspring and firing a load of union-loving activist lefty teachers.

Is nucanuck a Canadian? Why does the term "ignorant" come up so often when open-borders zealots bemoan immigration law enforcement? That term is usually used by the Tan Klan, MALDEF, and MEChA morons. Hmmmm.

July 4, 2011 at 12:09 a.m.
Wilder said...

BajaRat said....

"Why does the term "ignorant" come up so often when open-borders zealots bemoan immigration law enforcement?"

It is the tactic they transition to once the hard working, law abiding, family loving, you cannot possibly survive without us, propaganda is proven to be a lie.

It is what they have to ramp up to after the front page coverage of the demanding, defiant, Mexican flag waving, Chavez t shirt wearing, American citizen bashing, screaming mobs.

July 4, 2011 at 1:01 a.m.
JMW said...

Doing the right thing isn't always without short term consequences. In the long term though, Georgia will be much better off because of its new immigration laws. The farmers will be forced to utilize the H2A agricultural guest worker program, our children will learn more without the distractions that ESL students bring to class, waiting lines will be reduced at hospital EMR's, there will be fewer drunk drivers on the road, vehicle insurance cost could go down, graduation rates at schools will go up, more seats available at colleges and universities for citizens, etc., etc., etc.

July 4, 2011 at 9:59 a.m.
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