What will the school board cut? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

What will the school board cut?

DCSS financial chief Ken Dyer DCSS financial chief Ken Dyer
Superintendent Dr. David Mosley Superintendent Dr. David Mosley

Money, or lack of it, was the topic of today's Dougherty County school board meeting.  They approved a tentative budget of about $120 million and will spend the next two weeks looking at various cuts they'll have to make to balance it.    

One of those cuts would impact the Early College program.   Some parents and students at Thursday's meeting are upset that it's on the chopping block.      

"Money doesn't grow on trees," said DCSS board member Rev. James Bush.  

"There's absolutely no funding for it," said DCSS board member Darrel Ealum.    

Albany Early College is once again a potential target as Dougherty County school board members look for ways to fill a $8.1 million dollar budget hole.  

"The plan now is to scale it back to a high school program, move it to Albany High School and to phase the program out eventually over the next three or four years," said DCSS financial chief Ken Dyer.       

Parents and Albany Early College students spoke out during Thursday's budget meeting.   "I think that the budget cuts should be somewhere else. And not on the effectiveness on the most effective program you have," said parent Angela Mitchell.        

The program, housed at Andrews Hall at Albany State University, started in 2008 to help lower drop out rates and improve college attendance.  

And students say it works.  "I started getting more interested in school, we go way beyond the green and the black. We stand for something. I know my mission, my vision and my purpose," said a tearful Chequoria Taylor, an Albany Early College Senior.      

But the program is no longer receiving the support it used to and it's impacting the school system's bottom line.  

"As we speak the grant that originally started the program is gone. The Title one funds are no longer allowed to be used for it. And the [Albany State] University is now charging us for a facility," said Darrel Ealum said.  

"We can no longer fund Albany Early College from Title I funds and that was a huge hit on the budget of this system. You're looking at a million and a half dollars plus that we had to pick up out of general funds," said DCSS board member Carol Tharin.    

Moving the program to Albany High school would save the system between $300,000 and $400,000.   About 390 students are currently enrolled in the program.

Board members also discussed reducing furlough days and their use of reserves.

"We've been dipping into our reserves the last few years to the tune of a million and last year over $2 million and that's just not sustainable. Sooner or later your reserves are going to run out," said Dyer.

The proposed budget is made up of about $690,000 in reserves.

"We threw a lot of options out on the table and now we're going to have to pick and choose where we're going to make cuts. What it boils down to is where we use our money and how we can use it to serve the most students in the most effective way," said Tharin.

Although school board members approved today's budget, it is only tentative.

Public hearings will be held June 10th at noon and June 16th at 6pm. Residents are encouraged to attend the public hearings to address their concerns and offer suggestions.

The final budget will be voted on June 19th.



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