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February 17--  A member of the Vidalia school board has made his second trip to Washington on behalf of Georgia school boards.

{mosimage}Doug Roper, Jr. is Vice-President of the Georgia School Boards Association and makes an annual trek to the nation's capitol for a two-day conference run by the National School Boards Association and to meet with Georgia lawmakers.

One of the topics Roper brought to their attention is the lack of federal funding for special eduction.  The law is on the books but the feds aren't funding it fully.

"It was supposed to be supported at the federal level at 40%, at the state level at 40% and picked up at the local level at 20%.  It has never been fully funded at the federal level at 40% and currently is at 16% so there's a big push from local school board members and the different delegations at the conference to plead with their representatives to at least fund special education at the level it's supposed to be funded," he said.

Roper says it's important to meet face-to-face with legislators.

"The last two years I've learned a lot.  It's easy for me to get cynical, but we really need to do a good job of making our voices heard and not be cynical and sit back and think that things won't get done.  In a very respectful and positive manner, we need to reach out to our representatives, help them understand where we're coming from and try to work together," Roper said.

According to Roper, Senator Johnny Isakson, a former county school board member, is well informed on education issues and has told President Obama no more federal education mandates are needed until those already on the books are funded.

Doug is in line to become the president of the state school boards association two years from now and plans to remain active trying to educate lawmakers about grass roots education challenges.

"Part of our job is to educate them and find out where our representative stand.  If it's not in line with where we would like them to be, we need to try and move them in a direction where they will support us," he notes. 

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