Teachers lose 5% of their pay - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Teachers lose 5% of their pay

The Dougherty County School Board approved a $190 million budget will mean a 5% salary cut for teachers, and it comes in the form of 10 furlough days.

Students will be in larger classes and for fewer days per year.

It actually took two votes to approve a budget, the first time four board members voted the budget down, but after some confusion, Board member Velvet Riggins said she misunderstood the vote and in a second vote approved the budget.

But even those who approved it weren't necessarily happy with it.

The budget was narrowly approved on a four to three vote. Board members Darrel Ealum, Carol Tharin, and David Maschke voted against it with just a day left to put a budget in place.

 "I didn't think the board members had an opportunity to review by line item the entire budget and we're trying to save money right now and I think we need to go over every expenditure in great detail," said Tharin.

The budget is crafted by the school systems finance department. It includes a $116 million general fund.

Three million dollars in federal education job act funds will be used to make up the shortfall between expenditures and revenue.

They say the system lost one percent of their tax base, which isn't growing. Board members say they need to be more involved and need to take a tough look at the systems programs.

"We may need to streamline some programs, we may need to drop some programs out," said member Darrell Ealum.

"The only way we're going to do it is to review programs and to review every item that's budgeted," Tharin said.

That includes cutting some positions if they're not necessary. Board members say they know that's not popular, but funds can't be wasted.

"The school system is not a jobs program," said Board Member David Maschke. "We should be critically reviewing the jobs, whether every job is required and start eliminating positions that are not essential."

It's too late to do that this year, instead the system will look at increase class sizes across the entire system this year.

"This year we're applying it across the board, we tried to stay away from third grade, but we found it went up to 26, we still only have three or four classes throughout the system with 24. everyone else is below 23," said Director of Finance & Operations Robert Lloyd.

Grades sixth through twelfth will have 32 students in a classroom. Board members say next year they won't wait until May and June to consider a budget, especially since they know they'll lose another nine million dollars in the 2012-2013 school year.

While the state does require governments and school boards to approve a budget by June 30th, the system could have move forward with out a budget.

They would have to operate month to month on their current budget while taking steps to put a new budget in place.

They system would also have had to deal with an audit exception, which would have required an explanation why a budget wasn't adopted on time.


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