Columbia County school board to look to commission for budget help

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 11:04 AM
Last updated 5:47 PM
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Columbia County school board members said Tuesday they might look to the county government for help solving a budget shortfall.

The county’s Tax Com­missioner’s Office charges the school system 2.5 percent of taxes collected on its behalf each school year. System Controller Pat Sullivan said that amounts to about $1.7 millioneach year.

The board agreed during a Tuesday budget study session to send a letter to county commissioners asking them to cut that percentage.

Sullivan said just half a percent cut would save the school system about $350,000.

The school system is about $1 million short in revenue to balance a proposed $174 million budget for next school year.

The county government, however, is doing so well that commissioners are considering a half-mill rollback of the millage dedicated to paying off debt. The cut would save taxpayers about $2 million.

The school system lost about $13 million in state funding for next school year.

To counteract the deficit, the school board voted in March to cut 35 teaching positions and nearly 70 teacher aides to save about $5 million in personnel costs. Even though the student population might grow by as much as 500 next school year, the cuts were achieved by raising class sizes by no more than three students per class.

Officials are considering pulling $6.2 million out of the system’s $38 million reserve fund to make up more of the deficit.

Superintendent Charles Nagle told the board that the system might make up even more with a potential $600,000 savings in energy costs, as much as 2.5 percent growth in the county tax digest, and an about $500,000 of carry-over from the current budget.

But these are short-term solutions meant to avoid a tax increase and teacher furloughs for next school year, Nagle said.

“If things do not change for next year, we will not be able to maintain without raising taxes if we continue to grow,” he said.

Another option might be to shorten the school calendar with furlough days, which saves about $700,000 per day, according to system data.

“Unless something good happens, this could be the last year you could have a full school calendar,” Nagle told the board. “We can’t keep raising class sizes.”

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NrthAugustaSam
461
Points
NrthAugustaSam 05/15/12 - 11:51 am
1
0
Let them eat cake

Another fine example of the ineptitude of the Columbia County Commission led by Ron Cross. His cronies must not have kids in the school system or he just plain ole don't care. Sounds like someone is way out of touch.

faithson
4754
Points
faithson 05/15/12 - 12:23 pm
0
0
Read my lips

NO NEW Taxes... gotta love those norquist protege's, says a lot about what some think of our future.

Sweet son
9649
Points
Sweet son 05/15/12 - 12:39 pm
0
0
$1.7 Million

Sounds too high just to include the BOE tax that is on a bill that is going to be mailed out and collected anyway. Pretty expensive check when the tax folks write it back to the BOE!

wise ole man
79
Points
wise ole man 05/15/12 - 12:44 pm
1
0
Great idea! Most people who

Great idea! Most people who have moves to CC are here because of the schools. They need a break and what better way than the commissioners agree to assist in area.Columbia county has grown accustomed to being the premier school system In the area. Continued cutbacks will just stoop us to lowering our standards. Seems like a much better solution than raising taxes. Then BOE would just have to pay more to the county in order to collect the taxes.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 05/15/12 - 01:02 pm
0
0
The voters ought to hold the

The voters ought to hold the BOE and the superintendent responsible for how they manage fiscal issues; state cutbacks were no surprise, but folks at the BOE ignored them and are now asking for a hand-out. Instead, they ought to be slapped out of office and replaced with folks who know how to manage a budget.

wise ole man
79
Points
wise ole man 05/15/12 - 01:15 pm
0
0
Socks- you can vote the BOE

Socks- you can vote the BOE out of office, appoint a new super, fire all seasoned teachers, and teach only the 3 Rs and nothing will make up for the $13 million plus that the state withheld. I'm sure the current BOE would love to see and hear your ideas on how offer quality education to 24,000 students from all areas of life, with different qualities, and problems but still must meet the same benchmarks to be declared successful in life.

Little Lamb
43802
Points
Little Lamb 05/15/12 - 01:22 pm
0
0
EOCT

The school year actually ends when the students take the End of Course Tests. Yet, they have to keep attending until the calendar end date arrives. I challenge any citizen to go visit a school today and see if you can see any actual instruction going on. Instead, you will find the students watching movies or surfing the internet entertainment sites.

Go ahead and shorten next year's school calendar such that school ends when the EOCTs are done. That will be around the first of May.

David Parker
7919
Points
David Parker 05/15/12 - 02:30 pm
1
0
For the most part, the kids

For the most part, the kids are the ones who enjoy the extra week or so between finals and end of school. My youngins get excited about the movies and popcorn parties, field day, etc. It's not efficient and uses resources that may be at a premium, but it's the kids that get a kick out of it. Let them have the fun, God knows they will be introduced to "schedule adherence" and accountability before they know it.

The alternative, having the field day and then the tests is just anti-climactic and kids may not be prepared like they are in the current format. After so many hours of dodge ball and running with an egg on a spoon, their little heads are not thinking about testing.

Older high schoolers, I can't really speak on that until mine get up to that age. But for Elementary and into Middle, the current format seems to work effectively enough.

zippy
234
Points
zippy 05/15/12 - 03:08 pm
1
0
From these comments it is

From these comments it is clear that most do not understand the issue. The school board has had its funding cut to the bone by the state. There simply is not enough money to properly operate the school system. This is not Ron Cross' fault, not the school board's fault and not Mr. Nagle's fault. Quite frankly they have done a very good job balancing the needs with the available funding. The commission needs to consider helping the board where they can. The board also needs to consider the idea of a slight increase in their tax rate to coincide with a slight decrease by the commission. The result would be no impact on the tax payer and would give a little more revenue to the BOE to help in their crisis.

Dr. Craig Spinks.Georgians for Educational Excellence
106
Points
0
0
When's the last time that the

When's the last time that the CCBOE contracted with a competent, disinterested, out-of-state entity for a comprehensive financial audit? And, with all due respect, Cherry, Bekaert and Holland, the CCBOE's regular external auditor, doesn't meet at least two of the three criteria established above.

Because "there's not much courage in Augusta, Georgia," the annual CBH audit shouldn't be expected to step on any toes in our "go along to get along" metro area.

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 05/16/12 - 05:16 am
0
0
Great comments Wise, David,

Great comments Wise, David, and Zippy! Some people who comment on these boards just don't get the whole - you get what you pay for thing. When people move into a county with "good schools" you can't expect to do so without paying for a more expensive house and your cost of living with go up. As for the last week of school it may seem like one big party but these kids will be in the real world soon enough. Let them enjoy social time with friends and field days. After working hard all year to do well on the state forced standardized test I don't see any harm in letting a kid have a little down time.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 05/16/12 - 05:19 am
0
0
I wonder
Unpublished

I wonder if the 1.7 million include the healthy raises that the people in the board office get EVERY year.

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