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Tift County Teachers may lose salary supplements

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

September 3, 2008

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Georgia is in the middle of a budget crisis. And some teachers may have to pay the price. The Tift County School Board is proposing a 50 percent cut in local salary supplements to make up for less money from the state.  Teachers aren't happy.

The turnout was huge Wednesday at Tift County High School. It was the first of two public hearings giving teachers the chance to ask questions about the Board of Education's proposal to cut salary supplements. Teacher after teacher approached the Board with questions and concerns.

"A 50% cut would mean I would loose 1000 dollars," says Laura Robertson, a literacy coach at Matt Wilson Elementary School.

The Tift County School system is losing more than 700,000 dollars from the state for the 2008-2009 school year. The proposed 50 percent cut is one of the options the school board is weighing to make up for that amount.

"It unfortunately is the option that has the most money attached to it. The bulk of any school system's budget is contained in payroll," says Patrick Atwater, Superintendent of Tift County

School Payroll accounts for about 85% of the school system's budget. Cutting the extra pay for adminstrators and others who get the supplements will save the system more than 600,000 dollars.

"They do not have to cut the teacher's salaries in Tift County," says Bert Wagnon with the Georgia Association of Educators. He says there are ways to make up for the budget shortfall without cutting teacher pay.

He recommends taking more than two million dollars out the school system's reserves, borrowing money through low-interest tax anticipation loans, and collecting more property taxes by doing away with the homestead relief grants as the Governor has suggested.

Teachers are receiving raises this year, but if supplements are cut, while prices on everything else continue to rise, teachers are still worried.

"We're supposed to get a 2.5 increase raise and that won't even cover the cost of the increase in food, the increase in gas," says Robertson.

A follow up hearing will take place Thursday beginning at 4pm in the High School's Performing Arts Center. Board members plan to make a final decision on the supplement cuts on Tuesday. Feedback