Schools brace for more potential funding cuts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Schools brace for more potential funding cuts

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Georgia's school Superintendent warns school systems to expect more state funding cuts in the short term and the long term.

State Superintendent Kathy Cox expects she may be forced to cut another 39 million dollars before June 30th. Many of the state's 180 school district have already lost millions and been forced to furlough teachers for three days. Now more furlough days could be coming in 2010.

Business managers in school systems across the state are watching and waiting to find out what cuts they could face before June. Most are anticipating it will be across the board and say teachers are likely to be affected the most with furloughs.

Funding to provide what students and teachers need in the classroom primarily comes from property, payroll, and sales taxes. None of that revenue is improving in Dougherty County or statewide.

"We've been very frugal in the way we're spending our money, reviewing every vacancy that comes up to make sure it needs to be filled," said Robert Lloyd, Dougherty County School System Business Manager.

Dougherty County Schools are anticipating more cuts from the state, they got a hint Friday. With 88 percent of their expenses tied to staff it's likely teachers could ultimately pay the price.

"Furlough days is a cheap way of doing for the state because they just take it out of our QBE grants and it's across the board for everybody," said Lloyd.

At the request of the school board, an outside consultant is reviewing the entire operation and looking for potential savings.

"Reviewing each department staffing and operational efficiencies we're expecting that report in early 2010. That may afford us some opportunities for savings in many areas," said David Maschke, Dougherty County School System Board Chairman.

To ensure a student's classroom experience isn't affected by funding issues.

"Our first and foremost commitment is to be sure that children in the classrooms and teachers in the classrooms are getting the time, supplies, and support that they need to provide quality education," said Maschke.

Right now they hope to make up any difference with operational cost savings like carpooling to seminars and saving on energy in the system's buildings.

The Dougherty County School System is bracing for one increased cost they may not be able to control, that's the cost of hiring a new Superintendent. Board members are anticipating having to pay a new superintendent more to entice the right kind of candidate to Albany.

The longer the state waits to announce cutbacks and the closer they get to the end of the year, the tougher it might be for the school system to comply with those cuts.


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