State budget cuts hit school systems hard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State budget cuts hit school systems hard

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

August 11, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Statewide budget cuts have now reached the school level. School systems in Georgia will now have to help out with the state's expected 1-point-6 billion dollar shortfall. Educators have to figure out how to cut 171-million dollars from Georgia's K through 12 budget. Monday night Dougherty County school leaders got word of some of the newly required reductions they'll have to make.

State budget cuts are hitting the education system hard. K-12 education grants are being reduced. "We found out today a little after 6pm that we'll have a two percent reduction in a number of grants from the states," says Dr. Sally Whatley, Superintendent of Dougherty County Schools.

Programs that are to be reduced include: Equalization, Preschool Handicapped, Transportation, QBE, which mostly covers paying teacher's salaries, School Nurses, and Tuition for the Multi-Handicapped.

"We understand that our cuts are going to be in the order of about 1.7 million dollars and we'll be looking at the options we have over the next few weeks," says Robert Lloyd, Dougherty County School official in charge of handling the school budget.

This two percent reduction is for the 2008/2009 school year, which has already begun.

"After you've already planned your budget and you're expecting certain funds, this is just devastating for our school system as it will for several other school system in the state of GA," says Dr. Whatley. But the cuts will to continue to grow. The same programs will be reduced by three percent in 2010.

"We know that funding in the state is struggling, so it was not a surprise because we fully expected some type of decrease. But we just didn't know it would impact us this significantly," says Dr. Whatley.

Dougherty County School officials say it's too early to announce what changes will be made as far as spending is concerned.  They're hoping to have more information in the next couple of weeks.  State revenue collections for last month fell almost seven percent from this time last year. That adds up to more than 86 million dollars.

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