More teacher job cuts may come -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

More teacher job cuts may come

April 15, 2004

Sylvester-- Staff cuts in January by Worth County's Board of Education may only be the beginning. Recently, the board notified another 22 teachers and staff members that their jobs would be cut and school officials say the layoffs aren't over. Even with the cuts, school property taxes could be on the way up.

Eliose Billingslea says she found out at the beginning of the new year that after 18 years of working as a paraprofessional in Worth County schools she and 41 others like her were being laid off.

"I didn't feel as bad as some because I had heard it through the grapevine and I had a bus and some of them didn't have anything to go to," says Billingslea.

Driving a school bus was Billingslea's side job but now it's one she depends on. She's lucky to have that job as the Worth County Schools system becomes one of the first in South Georgia to make budget cuts ordered by the state. The budget cuts total more than a million dollars and almost 100 teachers and staff.

"Parents in particular don't know where the money is going," says Jill Hembree.

Jill Hembree has three young children in county schools. She's concerned about future quality of her children's education, specifically about cuts in music, arts and athletics programs.

"He loves sports, my son, and his school particularly they don't even go outside, that's troubling to me because they say as Americans we are overweight anyway so I feel that they need to be outside," says Hembree.

The Worth County Superintendent says job cuts had to be made to meet state requirements and the school system still must chop an additional $300,000 out of the budget.He hopes the money can come from other places and not by more teacher layoffs.

Along with the current state budget cuts, Worth County taxpayers could be looking at higher school property taxes. School officials believe a property tax hike could raise an additional $300,000 to help the cash-strapped system.

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