Sunday Solutions — Nov. 19, 2023

Here we are: Thanksgiving Week and there’s so much to give thanks for. We’ll catch you up on some stories from the week, point out a few things you may not have seen to consider, and leave you with a table full of reading. Enjoy. We’ll see you after the holiday weekend.

Savannah State University
Savannah State University, the state’s oldest HBCU, saw enrollment increase for fall semester. Credit: Jeffery M. Glover/ The Current

University students return to class work

After two years of declines, the University System of Georgia reported a record high for the fall semester. The system served 344,392 students, with an increase of nearly 10,000 students across 23 of 26 institutions. The trend follows national data, but Chancellor Sonny Perdue said the system’s work to align majors with workforce needs is making a difference. It came at the same time as announcements from regional development officials that the Savannah metro area — including the sprawling Hyundai Metaplant supplier network — won’t be able to fill jobs by 2025. The Savannah Harbor-Interstate Corridor Joint Development Authority released a workforce study Tuesday.

Back to enrollment: Savannah State, lagging for several years, showed an overall 4.6% increase over last fall. It’s welcome news for a campus that suffered severe cuts and layoffs in recent years. Georgia Southern, which has campuses in Statesboro, Savannah and Liberty County, showed a 2.4% overall increase. College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick remained steady with a small increase of 1.4% overall. Of note, Georgia Southern ranks second for students in dual enrollment programs. Also of note: At all but one institution, students were more likely to be women. Only Georgia Tech enrolled more men than women. Women comprise 32.6% there. Overall, the system is 56.3% women. Here’s a link to the full report for Fall 2023.

child care
Credit: Gabe Pierce/Unsplash

Child care as economic pillar

This story caught our attention since it combines a few topics we hear a great deal about: sales taxes, child care and tourism. In Colorado ski areas, residents are voting to use a portion of their hotel/motel sales taxes for a much-needed resource: child care. Chalkbeat reports the new stipends for child care employees is based in the idea that local workers power the tourism industry, so visitors should contribute to efforts that support a stable workforce. The taxes also reframe child care as a larger economic interest rather than just a family issue. Here’s the story about how it’s working.

We get it: News can be heavy

National News Literacy Week was last week, and we know that the information avalanche can be tough to dig out of at times. It’s harder than ever to figure out which shovel to use and which finds are valuable and useful to you. We get that, too. Research from Reuters shows that 38% of Americans sometimes avoid news reports altogether, and 2/3 of us just feel tired after reading news of the day. Yet, we all know that democracy is built on an informed citizenry that makes choices about the collective destiny. So if you find yourself scrolling past the hard stuff, you aren’t alone. It happens to all of us. Our best advice? Take a few minutes this holiday to get outside, away from the social media and news updates. Enjoy family and friends or explore a quiet place, then return ready to prioritize your inbox for information you trust. Here are questions from Trusting News that may help you sort through your reading:

  • Is the presentation one-sided? 
  • Is there an independent pursuit of the truth? 
  • Is there a careful adherence to the facts? 
  • Are those accused allowed to respond? 
  • Are all sources named and cited, and if not, is the reason explained?

Let us know how The Current stacks up as you reorganize for the coming year.

The Liberty County Courthouse
The Liberty County Courthouse Credit: Justin Taylor/The Current

Tax face-off in Liberty County

The Liberty County Commission voted last week to raise annual property tax rates by 35% — in spite of public hearings packed with disconnects. Residents didn’t understand how the increases could be so high and so sudden, and elected officials didn’t understand how residents couldn’t see the service obligations and rising costs the county faces. In confrontational questions that mirrored those of past weeks in Walthourville, it was clear all involved were unhappy with the lack of communication and the fiscal hurdles ahead. Liberty County reporter Robin Kemp describes the status of the tax process, the challenges of service costs and property digests under the law, the need for communications and what lies ahead for the county and its municipalities as they face the effects of new development and its demands.

new quiz logo

Let’s get quizzical

Competition is getting tough! We had five perfect scores last week. Want your chance to be featured in next week’s leaderboard? Leave a first name or nickname on your quiz so we can keep track of your score. 

Leaderboard 11/12/23: 

  • First Place (10/10) – Audrey, Savannah Agenda, EMF33, Andrew, Peaches
  • Second Place (8/10) – Franws 
  • Third Place (7/10) – John

Here’s your link to this week’s quiz.

father child conversation
Credit: Keira Burton/Pexels

Your second cup: Hard topics & Gaza

It’s not an election year, but dinner table conversations still can be tough during the holidays. We don’t have tips on how to navigate dry turkey, but we do have a story that inspires us to deal with complicated topics in a thoughtful way. Here’s a story from The 19th that talks to parents from various backgrounds about how they are talking to their children about the complex Gaza situation, made more confusing by family ties and history.

Enjoy your holiday week: Sunday Solutions will return Dec. 3.

Good news! We’ve got merch!

We know you want to get started on your holiday shopping now – here’s your chance. The Current’s merch store opened on Friday. Click here to pick out gifts that feature your favorite news source.

University System of Georgia reports enrollment increase

By Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Chancellor attributes change to focus on efforts to align degrees to workforce needs.

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Liberty County property owners will pay higher taxes

By Robin Kemp

The required public notice announcing the millage rate increase was the source of much contention during the meeting. Angry residents said they did not understand how the county could raise taxes 35% in one year.

Continue reading…

More tourism communities ask voters to approve lodging taxes for child care

By Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat

The new stipend for child care employees in Eagle County is funded through a lodging tax, a mechanism that Colorado communities, especially in mountain resort regions, are increasingly tapping to generate new dollars for housing and child care for people who live there. The idea is that local workers power the tourism industry, so visitors should contribute […]

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Parents tell us how they are talking to their children about Israel and Palestine

By Sara Luterman/The 19th

The 19th asked parents how they’re approaching such a complex conversation with their children. How are they protecting their children from graphic imagery while still being honest about what is happening? How are they talking to their children about safety in an increasingly hostile world?

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Hogg Hummock, Darien church listed as ‘Places in Peril’

By Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological, and cultural resources facing such threats as demolition, inappropriate development, or just plain neglect.

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Environmental groups call for federal action after regulators OK Georgia Power coal ash permit

By Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

The permit is the first to be finalized under Georgia’s state-run coal ash disposal permitting program. More than 1 million tons of toxic coal ash sit at the site in an unlined pit near the Coosa River in northwest Georgia.

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Savannah mayoral candidate not a registered voter when she filed to run

By Jake Shore

Tyrisha Davis, a candidate for Savannah mayor, was not registered to vote when she filed to run for office, Chatham County officials said. It’s the second apparent violation of requirements to run for mayor, according to state law.

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State schools superintendent eyes new funding approach in 2024 Legislature

By Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

DOE priorities include making students living in poverty a focus in the state’s funding formula, new pay raises and literacy training for teachers, the state taking over some of the ballooning costs of transporting students and more slots in the state’s Pre-K program

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Susan Catron is managing editor for The Current GA. She is based in Coastal Georgia and has more than two decades of experience in Georgia newspapers. Contact her at Susan...