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Columbia County school budget $3 million short

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The Columbia County school board adopted a budget Wednesday that is more than $3 million short of what it intends to spend.

Topic: Columbia County Schools
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The board gave tentative approval to a budget that projects about $165.1 million in revenues and about $168.6 million in expenditures.

School officials intend to dip into their reserve fund and take about $3.5 million to balance next fiscal year's budget. The board already has approved pulling $1.5 million from the reserve fund to balance the current budget.

Those withdrawals drop the reserves to $26 million. The school board can't pull any more from the fund without dropping below the 15 percent limit the state requests local governments to maintain.

School officials said they had to pull from reserves to compensate for a $6 million loss in state funding without making more cuts. The school system already has eliminated 17 teaching positions, two counseling positions and middle school Spanish-language instruction. It has cut funding for instructional supplies by 10 percent and included five furlough days into next year's school calendar.

Officials had considered cutting some middle school sports programs and eliminating nearly 70 paraprofessional teaching positions, but backed off on those options for at least one more year. In fact, money is included in the new budget to hire as many as 15 more paraprofessionals, but they will be expected to act as substitute teachers more often as the need arises.

Last year, the board eliminated about 100 teaching and paraprofessional positions through attrition and class size increases to make up for lost state funding.

Since 2007, the board has lost about $21 million in state funding even as the system's student population grew by more than 1,000.

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corgimom
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corgimom 05/26/10 - 09:28 am
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OK, so if this year will pull

OK, so if this year will pull the reserves down to the limit, dare I ask-

what happens next year?

schoolparent
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schoolparent 05/26/10 - 05:03 pm
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Do the Columbia County

Do the Columbia County schools need all of the assistant principals and the salaries that they are paid? The salary of one assistant principal is almost equal to the salary of two teachers.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 05/27/10 - 03:39 am
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Corgi, I think the answer to

Corgi, I think the answer to your question is that the 15% limit "law" will have to be amended. I also think that the schools, or the school system, need to do a better job at garnering support from the local businesses. For example, this year there's going to be another 10% cut for instructional supplies. Find out what type of supplies could be donated by the area businesses rather than depend on the teacher's to come out of their own pockets for the crayons, pencils, paper, glue, etc.? I'm sure the schools are doing their best right now at business-begging, but maybe there's something more they could do? Hope so.

735
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Barry Paschal 05/27/10 - 06:20 am
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The 15 percent is not a law,

The 15 percent is not a law, but a recommendation from the state board of education.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 05/27/10 - 06:51 am
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you can always eliminate

you can always eliminate extra curricular activities...i see nothing was mentioned about suspending all sports programs, but there are no hesitations to lay off teachers...i thought school was to education...oh well i guess being able to count to 4 is good enuff

Riverman1
90107
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Riverman1 05/27/10 - 07:57 am
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The reserve fund had grown to

The reserve fund had grown to be too large over the years. I believe the intent of the fund is to help rebuild a school after a fire, tornado or other catastrophe has destroyed it. It was never intended to support routine budget necessities. However, this was a beneficial way to draw the fund down.

Chillen
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Chillen 05/27/10 - 08:22 am
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This begs the obvious

This begs the obvious question about what they will do during the next budget round. Property values in CC have dropped (as they have everywhere else), recent assessment notices confirm this. As a result CC is looking at significantly less property tax revenue from existing homeowners in the coming year.

The next budget year is going to be a mess. I hope they are ready and I wish them luck.

GAterp
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GAterp 05/27/10 - 08:30 am
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Folks it's basic supply and

Folks it's basic supply and demand economics. You cannot keep cutting taxes and increasing spending for all these years and expect your rainy day fund to hang in there.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/27/10 - 08:32 am
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If you are going to amass a

If you are going to amass a "reserve fund" during good times, it only makes sense to draw it down during bad times. There is no reason not to let it drop below 15 percent during the drawdown periods. The 15 percent recommendation would have to be seen as an "average" number, not an absolute minimum.

So, Chillen, one answer to your question for school year 2011-12 is that if state tax collections are down and state contributions to the county school system don't meet trustees desires; then they could dip into the reserve fund again next year. Things will turn around some day.

AtlasShrugged
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AtlasShrugged 05/27/10 - 01:11 pm
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Somehow these "conservative"

Somehow these "conservative" leaders of the school system are conservative in name only. They continue to spend like drunken sailors (no offense to my fellow Navy veterans) with no regard for the high taxes we have to pay now. Wasteful spending!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/27/10 - 08:08 pm
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Considering the big picture,

Considering the big picture, I believe the CC school system did the right thing. The reserve fund was too large. They were spending too much with the current economy-school tax revenue situation.

The school system reacted by cutting jobs by attrition, cutting programs that were not necessary and then drawing from the reserve fund to keep necessary positions.

What should be done is that drastic cuts to the retirement system should begin. The Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRSGA) should he putting money back into the school districts with the hope that matters will improve later.

corgimom
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corgimom 05/28/10 - 12:41 pm
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Riverman, I'm not quite

Riverman, I'm not quite understanding what you're saying. The TRSGA should put money back in schools?

Federal pension laws are very specific as to what can be done with pension money. It is the responsibility of the TRSGA to invest money wisely to insure the fiscal soundness of the pension plans.

Underfunded pension plans are the next big monetary crisis looming in the US. It's estimated that there is over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS of liability in state and municipal pension funds.

Eventually, it will cause another economic collapse.

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