New Richmond County school budget saves jobs

Cuts to the 2011-12 Richmond County school system budget might not affect full-time employees as negatively as previously expected.

During the year's second budget meeting Tuesday, school system staffers said they could save $303,000 by phasing out a number of substitute teachers, interns and other temporary positions.

That would replace the initial plan that proposed laying off eight full-time employees to save $600,000.

The current budget still accounts for $1.6 million in staff reductions that will be made through retirements, funding source changes, resignations and other means of attrition.

"We do not forecast that we would actually have individuals lose their jobs," Anita Faglier, the district's director of finance and accounting, said of full-time employees.

The Richmond County Board of Education unanimously approved the proposed budget Tuesday. The board will vote on the numbers again at the regular meeting this month before it is due to the state June 30.

Because of a $17 million shortfall facing the school system, the district staff has proposed to save money through actions such as eliminating $400,000 in consultants, reducing energy costs by $200,000 and cutting $200,000 in materials and supplies.

The district staff, however, has had second thoughts on one major cut, to which several board members vehemently objected.

The first draft of the budget presented last month proposed eliminating all transportation for students who attend magnet schools to save the district $383,000.

Because of the hardship that would put on students living in outer areas of the county, the transportation department helped create a plan to maintain magnet transportation but reduce costs.

The morning schedules will remain unchanged for magnet students, but afternoon routes will be condensed to make them more efficient.

Magnet students will ride their buses to other centralized schools after dismissal and then transfer.

"The students that live on the southern end, as you know, the main complaint that we have from parents is, 'My child rides too long,' " said Jimmy Wiley, the transportation director.

Wiley said that the new route system will be 40 to 50 percent faster and save the district $100,000 in fuel and driver personnel costs.

Despite the cutbacks, this second version of the budget still uses $10 million in reserve funds to make up for the shortfall in revenue.

Acting Superintendent James Whitson said that the budget is still a work in progress and that the district will take any chance it can to save money throughout the year.

"All year we'll be seeking every opportunity to reduce the budget," Whitson said. "We will continue to look at any opportunity to reorganize, any opportunity that we can to save energy, any opportunity that we can reorganize and save personnel, we will do that."

Richmond County schools budget shrinks staffs, routes
See the breakdown of revenues and expenditures
See the current budget

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