Baker Co. schools in financial crisis -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Baker Co. schools in financial crisis

Baker Co. Superintendent Tommy Rogers Baker Co. Superintendent Tommy Rogers

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Teachers are now facing pay cuts, and the superintendent may offer them help out of his own pocket.

There have been rumors floating around about teachers pay cuts for a while now, and Thursday it was made a reality. Teachers were called to a meeting with the Superintendent and told their pay would be cut 30% until December.

But the superintendent gave them some options and now they are forced with some tough decisions before school starts in just three weeks.

"Well we lost over $800,000 from what we expected to have, and that's a large amount for a small district," said Baker Co. Superintendent Tommy Rogers.

"I don't know for sure, but I think for my family it would be $1,300 per month," said Baker Co. Teacher Jodi Collins.

And the school system has two options, one of which is to switch to a four day school week. "That in turn would make us go to school later in the month of June," said Rogers.

The other option is for teachers to work four days a week with pay, and one without until the month of December. Later that month, when taxes are collected, teachers will get the money back.

But the Superintendent is offering loans in the meantime to help teachers get through those months without pay. If teachers take the loan, the superintendent says he'll set aside $80,000  from his personal savings, and will loan teachers money interest free, to make up for the difference.

"It's my job to make it work. I'm the superintendent. whether I get paid for it or not," Rogers said.

Teachers would be required to pay it back in December. But for some, a loan is not an option. "I think it is very generous, but personally I'm not comfortable taking a loan from somebody," Collins. said. "I don't feel comfortable with the loan."

Now they are faced with some tough decisions. "I have to go home and look at ways my family can make that adjustment without that income until December," Collins said.

And still have unanswered questions. "How did this happen? Did they know about it for months? Why did we just get the information?" asked teacher Carol Worthy. "I worry how long will this happen. Will we be going through this next year?"

Teachers do not know when they will meet again to make this decision.

Now the school board must decide whether to raise taxes. The millage rate for this year has not been set yet, but the superintendent says the tax rate will determine the survival of the school district.

They system already made cuts. School is starting later this year to lower utility costs. Some teachers contracts weren't renewed which means class sizes will increase dramatically. They're even combining all students into one school building.

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