It’s about the money.

When we asked participants in our survey to identify the greatest challenge facing their local grade schools in the coming year, nearly 40 percent cited school budgets. One 66-year-old Brookhaven woman put it simply: “More funding!”

Of the 200 respondents, 18 percent saw administrative leadership as the biggest challenge facing their local school. Another 16 percent listed state or federal standards governing schools as the top problem.

Respondents to the cellphone-based survey of residents in communities served by Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown were asked to choose one primary issue from among seven issues facing schools, or to choose “other” if the listed issues missed the mark. Choices ranged from classroom subject matter to parental involvement. The smallest number — just 4 of the 200 respondents, or 2 percent — saw school buildings or facilities as the greatest problem.

Asked how best to improve education locally, survey respondents found areas needing fixing in about every part of the school system.

Some respondents pointed to classroom teachers. “Hire better qualified teachers who are accountable for results,” a 61-year-old Sandy Springs man wrote.

Others took fault with school administrators. “Have strong, honest leaders that know how to budget and lead,” a 36-year-old Atlanta woman said.

Still others looked to parents for a solution. “It starts with parents teaching kids at home,” a 42-year-old Atlanta woman said.

And others looked to the larger community as the source of, and potential solution to, local school issues.

“Deal with the root causes,” a 22-year-old Buckhead woman responded. “Racial and class divides manifest themselves in the geographic composition of the city, and the effects of white flight in the 1970s following integration efforts are still seen today, leading to some public schools having ample funding while some severely lack in resources.”

Here’s what some other respondents said are their schools’ biggest challenges:

“Providing more resources to schools, for both students and teachers.”
–22-year-old Atlanta woman

“More community involvement.”
–55-year-old Sandy Springs man.

“Strong leadership and effective communication with students and families will lead to an improvement in the education system.”
–18-year-old Buckhead woman

“Better paid teachers.”
–31-year-old Brookhaven woman

“Raise money for better qualified teachers.”
–20-year-old Brookhaven woman

“Please get rid of the constant standardized tests. Teachers teach for the test instead of imparting knowledge.”
–58-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs man

“More parent involvement and better funding for the arts.”
–36-year-old Brookhaven woman

“Better funding for public schools – in all areas.”
–54-year-old Sandy Springs woman

1Q is an Atlanta-based start-up that sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text messages. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at or by texting “REPORTER” to 86312.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.