The Richmond County Board of Education on Wednesday approved a $238 million 2012-13 budget that includes nine furlough days, larger class sizes and two layoffs.
More than 100 positions were eliminated through retirements, lateral transfers and other attrition to save $5 million, but two Career Technical and Agricultural Education employees could not be transferred to other positions and were terminated.
The school system had to make up for a $34 million shortfall in revenue this year caused by a cut in state funding and a drop in enrollment, according to Superintendent Frank Roberson.
In covering the shortfall, the system is set to use $17 million in reserve funding, leaving just $10 million – enough to cover two weeks of operating expenses in case of an emergency.
Deputy Superintendent James Whitson said one of the most significant changes for next year is an increase in class size that is five students above state limits. The increase will allow for more staff elimination by attrition through 2014, he said.
“It really hurts,” Whitson said. “You can’t reduce teachers, and you can’t increase class sizes and it not hurt.”
State funding for 2012-13 was reduced by $22 million. State cuts began in 2002 with a $3 million reduction and have gradually increased over the years into the tens of millions.
The school system also had to account for a 50 percent increase since last year in noncertified health insurance costs after the state moved to contribute less to all Georgia school districts over the next four years.
Included in the staff elimination through attrition were 53 teachers, three high school assistant principals, one head custodian, two public safety officers, 60 first-grade paraprofessionals over time, five CTAE teachers and a public information director.