Richmond County school budget includes tax increase, job cuts, extra furlough day

Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:59 PM
Last updated Friday, June 28, 2013 12:23 AM
  • Follow Education

Before the Richmond County Board of Education approved a 2013-14 budget that included a property tax increase, layoffs and an extra furlough day, board member Jimmy Atkins wanted to clear the air.

Back | Next
District 8 representative Jimmy Atkins (right) asks a question during the budget discussion at Thursday's Richmond County Board of Education meeting.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
District 8 representative Jimmy Atkins (right) asks a question during the budget discussion at Thursday's Richmond County Board of Education meeting.

“We value the staff of this county,” he said. “We value the hard work. The (Criterion Referenced Competency Tests) results this week showed the hard work that the folks have done. We’re being asked to do more with less, and people can get mad with this board if they want to, but the fact of the matter is we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got to work with, and if they want to get mad with somebody – I’ve said it time and time again – they need to go talk to their state legislators and their federal legislators because that’s where the cuts are coming from. They’re not coming from anyone sitting around this table here.”

Citing steep state funding cuts, the board on Thursday approved a $233 million budget that includes the elimination of 135 positions and nine furlough days, one extra than what was proposed in the initial budget approved earlier this month. Atkins and board member Barbara Pulliam voted no while Jack Padgett was absent.

Because employees will continue to retire or move away during the summer, Chief Human Resources Officer Norman Hill could not provide an exact count for how many layoffs will have to be made and how many of the 135 position cuts will be taken care of through attrition.

Hill said there are currently more than 100 vacancies in the system, but not all of those can be used to fulfill the cuts because of certification issues, especially in middle and high school.

Even though 75 teaching positions are being eliminated, no current teachers will have to be laid off.

“There will be a lot of transfers, but they will all have jobs,” said board attorney Pete Fletcher.

The bulk of the layoffs will fall on removing 30 custodians, 22 paraprofessionals and four clerical positions. By adding a ninth furlough day to the budget, board members saved $936,000 they will use to save some of those classified jobs.

The final budget also does not include three controversial expenditures proposed earlier this month: a $78,000 Gallup Inc. hiring tool, an $85,458 human resources coordinator and a $61,413 human resources compliance officer.

“This helps toward maintaining certified employees,” said board member Helen Minchew, referring to teaching positions.

This budget cycle was noted as the first time individual schools were brought into the process to have a voice in where to cut spending. Facing a $23 million shortfall, each principal was tasked with cutting 7 percent of his or her school’s expenditures, whether that be in utility costs, staff or otherwise.

Because the schools were initially told the 7 percent cuts would help limit furlough days to eight, Atkins said he was not able to support a final budget that increases furlough days to nine.

Superintendent Frank Roberson said the extra day was needed, not only to save jobs, but also because not all of the recommendations that came from schools were usable. He said principals “understood the limitations we were up against.”

“They thought they were going to get one of their furlough days back, and that had to be a little bit of a morale booster,” Atkins said. “Now ... we’re taking that away from them; along with that we’re being asked to raise taxes, so many of those folks live in Richmond County so they’re going to pay more property taxes, they’re still going to have nine furlough days and unfortunately some of them are not going to have a job.”

The budget includes raising property taxes for Richmond County residents, but public meetings to set that millege rate will not be held until next month.

Several board members described this budget cycle as one of the worst they’ve dealt with and pointed to the 11th-hour decisions they had to make unnecessarily. Roberson said his staff will begin planning for the 2014-15 budget as early as this fall to give board members more time to make difficult decisions.

Board member Frank Dolan said he wanted that process to begin “the minute after” Thursday’s budget was approved. He added the board should consider any measure to improve its financial situation, even if it meant reducing the number of operating schools so the board can sell the property.

“This has been awful for me to worry about this, I think it’s been awful for the board worrying about this, I think it’s been awful for the employees, I think it’s been awful for the parents and children,” Dolan said. “The whole community has suffered through this process … I don’t know what else to do, but I think going forward we don’t ever want to go through this again.”

Comments (33) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 06/27/13 - 09:14 pm
1
0
Raising taxes again!!!! I bet
Unpublished

Raising taxes again!!!! I bet RC has the highest taxes anywhere in the south. The answer to every problem is raise taxes. And just last week RC said they wanted to give free lunch to everyone.
Please tell me these tax increases aren't going to happen. I'm glad I'm not a teacher.

leebraxjr
272
Points
leebraxjr 06/28/13 - 01:22 am
0
0
Layoffs vs. Growth and Ingenuity

It is great to hear that most teachers will not lose their jobs. The retirements will also help with monies for the schools.

Now, with the technology Richmond County has, I think looking towards the future as many schools are doing would be a great alternative to help jobs for custodians and others.

What I mean is start implementing classes online. There are tax breaks for the school system to have online programs. Those students that are in advanced classes should be able to participate in this program.

The US school system is changing and by introducing the students to online learning this will help them after graduation if they go to college. The benefits of using less energy, school busing, and having to set a budget for substitute teachers would curve the school expenses dramatically.

I do believe this idea is worth looking into. As I have mentioned before there are many benefits to taking this course of action. Another savings would be having subjects on a digital device compared to having hardback books.

I could continue on with this subject, but I will stop and I hope others will put their input into this post. Also I hope this topic comes up in the next Board of Education's meeting.

P.S. As for the subject that will also come up concerning how do we go about affording the laptops? One way this can be afforded is to have a correspondence with some of the colleges, computer businesses, and the Military, there could be an agreement met by bartering with support from each other.

The Board of Education can also increase revenue by having a more presence in the community. By this I mean using some of the elective classes the school could offer discounted prices for services by the student. One example would be automotive repairs. This would help the community and give the students extra training.

There could be food festivals where students can make and sell dishes to businesses. This idea would be excellent for those who may want to venture starting their own business once they graduate. There really are so many productive avenues for our young and bright students.

Riverman1
90742
Points
Riverman1 06/28/13 - 03:43 am
1
1
Magnet Schools...Again

"He added the board should consider any measure to improve its financial situation, even if it meant reducing the number of operating schools so the board can sell the property."

With the tiny number of students the magnet schools have and with the recent court ruling that the schools don't have to be 50% black, these schools will become mostly white. It will be interesting if the BOE continues the schools.

leebraxjr
272
Points
leebraxjr 06/28/13 - 04:50 am
2
0
Deleted comment

Wow AC, you really are great on public opinion and positive feedback on a situation. Why did you decide to delete my comment? censorship is not your responsibility, especially when it is not due reward.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 06/28/13 - 06:14 am
4
0
They seriously need to

They seriously need to consider four day a week school.

grovetownman
63
Points
grovetownman 06/28/13 - 07:01 am
1
0
looks like the teachers of RC
Unpublished

looks like the teachers of RC are being bent over again. Nine furlough days? Rising cost of health insurance and more! Will those teachers ever see a real paycheck again?

...point to ponder
779
Points
...point to ponder 06/28/13 - 07:03 am
1
0
Can't have cake and eat it too....

If we all want taxes to go down at all levels of government then I'm not going to blame our State and Fedeal beaucracies for cutting funding. This is what we all want, right? Less taxes?
Maybe looking at local top heavy school systems ...maybe furlough days are the way to go? Maybe using the schools we have more efficiently.

I certainly don't know the answer but I like less taxes dollars spent at A L L levels of government!

allaboutlife
55
Points
allaboutlife 06/28/13 - 07:07 am
5
2
It should not have been

It should not have been difficult to make the cuts. Get rid of all the students not wanting to be there, are there for alterior motives, and those constanting causing disruptions. Get rid of all the babysitting services, free lunches and so-called positive programs for keeping those students. Get back to the basics of teaching and get rid of all the liberal programs. Schools should teach kids not raise them.

jbenny2010
263
Points
jbenny2010 06/28/13 - 07:47 am
4
0
I notice that

they NEVER recommend cutting positions at the Central Office. Most of those people hang out, talk with one another, and push paper around. Cut some of those making a 6-figure salary and leave the custodians and parapros. They work hard and serve a very necessary purpose. The director of high schools won't be missed. - A former RCBOE teacher

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 06/28/13 - 07:53 am
5
0
Office

Correct, jbenny. In the print edition sidebar, Tracey McManus gave us this information:

In other business, RCBOE named Scott McClintock as principal of Westside High. McClintock . . . replaces Debbie Alexander, who was named assistant superintendent of instruction this year.

That would have been a good opportunity to reduce the size of the downtown staff. Instead, they're keeping the status quo.

Sean Moores
928
Points
Sean Moores 06/28/13 - 07:53 am
2
0
@ Leebrax 5:50am

It wasn't removed. It was caught by our spam filter. I reposted it.

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 06/28/13 - 07:55 am
3
0
Furlough

Nine furlough days. If you count the entire calendar year that would be less than a four percent pay reduction. If you count the ten month school year, it would be barely over four percent. It's not the end of the world. Many of us have experienced pay cuts throughout our careers. This Jimmy Atkins character is shedding crocodile tears for the cameras.

thauch12
6982
Points
thauch12 06/28/13 - 08:01 am
3
3
Higher taxes for a beyond

Higher taxes for a beyond crappy public school education in Richmond County?! Yes please, sign me up!
...said noone ever.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/28/13 - 08:02 am
0
0
Ain't obama's
Unpublished

regime wonderful?

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 06/28/13 - 08:04 am
2
0
Property

From the story:

Board member Frank Dolan said . . . the board should consider any measure to improve its financial situation, even if it meant reducing the number of operating schools so the board can sell the property.

I was driving out Wrightsboro Road earlier in the week, in the area that is being widened (watch out if you go there, it's a bit treacherous in places). Anyway, if you are going away from Augusta, you see on the right an abandoned Richmond County school building. I don't remember the name. It looks terrible. You just know the roof must be leaking. Why doesn't the school board sell at auction the hundreds (if not thousands) of acres it owns across the county and is not using? Even if you do not maintain your abandoned buildings, you are still losing money by holding onto the valuable property. Sell it if you are not using it! No matter what the property brings, sell it.

dichotomy
36291
Points
dichotomy 06/28/13 - 08:20 am
7
1
Our school systems should NOT

Our school systems should NOT depend on federal and state funding and they should learn to live with what WE CAN AFFORD to pay. Getting locals addicted to federal and state money and then cutting it off has been a ploy for which we have fallen for decades now.....usually to get some liberal, totally unnecessary program started that no sane school board would implement if THEY had to pay for it. Our school boards need to cut ALL of the crap programs and get back to basics and live within OUR budget. And they SHOULD NOT have the option to raise OUR taxes to replace federal and state money. When that money gets cut....CUT THE PROGRAM. Cut the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend food and the salaries for the people that have to prepare it and the utilities it takes prepare it and serve it. Teach reading, writing, math, science, geography, and history. Pass the ones that learn, fail the ones that don't, and kick the troublemakers out....permanently. Do away with alternative schools. The only "alternative" should be that they either obey the rules or they get expelled and sent home to be moma and daddy's problem. I'm tired of paying for a separate Club Med for smart mouths, punks, thugs, and criminals. PUT THEM OUT.

Riverman1
90742
Points
Riverman1 06/28/13 - 08:36 am
6
1
Waste of Money

If I were trying to save the school system money, I’d consider the room and furnishings where the Richmond County BOE meets. Talk about pretentiousness. It looks like a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. What in the world is wrong with meeting at a large table?

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 06/28/13 - 08:53 am
2
0
RM

When you have little in the way of substance, you have to make up for it with more style and pretentiousness.

Jake
33415
Points
Jake 06/28/13 - 09:48 am
1
0
@LL

That school you saw would be the original Sue Reynolds that now has a Monte Sano sign over it's name. I went to school there from 1960-63.
It had real shiny, dark hardwood floors then and tall ceilings. It looked pretty good. Now I would venture that leaded paint and asbestos would detract from anyone wanting the building. But the property could be sold for development since Wrightsboro Rd is going to be wider.

Jake
33415
Points
Jake 06/28/13 - 09:54 am
2
0
Photos

Sad, really, that the room is not full of concerned parents who have a stake in this budget cutting meeting to see how it will impact their children.
Was this not a public meeting?

gaj265
201
Points
gaj265 06/28/13 - 10:04 am
0
3
@ Little Lamb

Dr. Alexander is replacing Dr. Bradshaw, who is retiring. The Director for High Schools retired in November and has not been replaced. Her duties were divided among Dr. Bradshaw, Dr. Ashe, Dr. Rountree, Dr. Jones, Tim Spivey, and a couple of other Central Office employees. No doubt, we need to trim expenses, but we MUST have Leadership at the Central Office level.

IAmISaid
206
Points
IAmISaid 06/28/13 - 10:59 am
3
0
Leadership? It's more than filling positions
Unpublished

You don't get leadership just because you fill open positions. You get leadership from leaders, not desk and chair occupants. Can anyone in Richmond County BOE really be said to be a leader?

sassylassie
503
Points
sassylassie 06/28/13 - 11:08 am
3
0
Why has this "leadership"

Why has this "leadership" gaj265 references not been able to examine a 4 day work/school week? Imagine saving the money on Fridays for buses, drivers, electricity, food, paper etc. a 4 day work week would allow the front line workers (custodians, para pros, teachers) to work with our children.
What does the top floor at the central office do? Why can't they consider this as a viable option?

Keep the kids/staff a little later Monday through Thursday and close on Fridays. What's the problem?

Oh, while we are at it-can we cut staff members that are related to board members and other upper staff who do nothing and hide behind their relatives?? And these individuals who have been in the system 35 plus years who collect an exorbitant salary for being at the central office, its time to go to the house.

sassylassie
503
Points
sassylassie 06/28/13 - 11:16 am
0
0
And how much did the board

And how much did the board just spend on textbooks for next year??

candidperson
34
Points
candidperson 06/28/13 - 12:10 pm
8
0
I encourage people of

I encourage people of Richmond County to attend these Board meetings and if you can not attend the meetings then go to the RCBOE's website and click on "Board Meeting eBoard Website"--->Meetings-->Board Meetings. This way you can see documentation on what has been discussed at the meetings. Thank you AC for addressing the positions RCBOE is trying to add amid cutbacks. Two jobs being added by RCBOE that was not published is a Pre-Kindergarten Consultant for $95,723 and Assistant Principals 1 position (Lake Forest 1/2, Warren Road 1/2) for $101,810!

Furthermore, cutting custodians and parapros positions is the wrong decision. Parapros are lucky to make $20,000 a year but there are plenty of Instructional Coaches making over $70,000! Put the Instructional Coaches back in the classroom. It is an unneeded position. Besides RCBOE tends to hire elementary school teachers as Instructional Coaches but place these people in middle and high school where they are not even effective. It is nothing personal with Instructional Coaches but staff development was established to collaborate with other teachers and this really strengthen teachers.

The two Instructional Coaches at the middle school I teach at are both former elementary teachers and have no understanding of middle school curriculum, discipline issues, etc. Other teachers at other schools tell me the same thing. Several meetings with the Instructional Coaches is basically them passing out lessons they found and printed off the internet and giving to teachers to implement. As soon as teachers complain about the the lessons the Instructional Coaches gave out the coaches run to the principal. The Instructional Coaches I work with do not understand that in middle school not all students read on grade level and some can not even read.

Furthermore, these positions do more hurt than help. For instance, once every 4 months these coaches will come and observe teachers classroom for maybe 10 minutes but then claim to find various problems in teachers classrooms. All the coaches are doing are trying to validate their position. These coaches don't grade papers, deal with students, and do not even have duties like other teachers. These are the only people at the school that leave at 4:00 everyday while the teachers are there until at least 5:00 with bus duty, grading papers, and calling parents.

Also, RCBOE needs to explain about no cuts made at the top, like administrators and the wasteful spending. Why was iPads purchased for principals? Many people do not know but about 2 years ago RCBOE purchased about 200 Kindle tablets. I would of never knew if I did not go on the RCBOE website and check on their actions. When is RCBOE going to cut these horrible principals. I see Sego principal will continue to make $100,000 a year and not be held accountable about the school's poor performance. Put these unproductive principals back in the classroom or fire them.

Another thing, I see RCBOE has hired some new principals. Did these new assistant principals all attend the Rising Stars program that RCBOE is forcing teachers to attend if they want to be considered for principal positions? It is a shame that only a selected few will be able to apply and attend the Rising Stars program. If you are not in the 'clique' you will not move up in this county. The nepotism continues in the county at the expenses of our children. All the high schools have a new gym and football stadium but when I attended high school in Richmond county, many of the schools shared football stadiums. I remember Glenn Hills and Butler sharing the same stadium.

I beg the people of the community to take back their school system call your commissioners, the mayor, local media outlets. We can only blame ourselves if we do not speak up for our children.

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 06/28/13 - 01:02 pm
0
0
Right On

sassylassie posted:

Keep the kids/staff a little later Monday through Thursday and close on Fridays. What's the problem?

Sassy, you know I have been championing a four day school week for some time. However, the school week needs to be Tuesday through Friday. Why, you ask? Because here in the deep south Friday night high school football is a sacred tradition, akin to high church mass.

Besides, there is a bonus in having Mondays with no school building activities — many school holidays fall on Monday. Since school would be closed on Mondays anyway, these holidays can be observed with no expense to the school calendar.

Riverman1
90742
Points
Riverman1 06/28/13 - 02:00 pm
5
0
Candidperson deserves a

Candidperson deserves a thumbs up for that informative post.

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 06/28/13 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Thumbs Up

I thought Candidperson's post offered a lot of useful insight as well, RM.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 06/28/13 - 02:55 pm
0
0
tax increase and layoffs
Unpublished

well folks its the same old song again..."we have to increase taxes, and layoff only a few folks" this is of course because the poor "prah-jeck" kids will not get their special programs, free breakfast and lunch...because we all know it's about "ed-u-kat-in da chillin" right ms cain...FOR THE CHILDREN!!!!! well i could fix the school district budget mess and reduce taxes immediately...1) consolidate josey and laney/butler and glenn hills this will put most of the sorry and uninterested/non-motivated students in only two places...closing 2 schools, then institute a zero tolerance for fighting, disobedience, and disrepect for teachers, para-pros, employees, and administration..this will reduce the school population by about another 30%..3) eliminate all non-academic extra curricular activities...if the students cant "reed, rite, or cownt" then why should they play organized sports..this will save the school dist millions in pay, transportation, insurance, legal, and other costs, and lastly get rid of 2-3 seats on the school board..it is their decisions that are costing rich cnty millions upon millions of dollars-starting with ms. cain..i would however build prison-like holding cells/rooms in most of the schools in rich cnty (except for johnson/davison/walker) expecially the schools in close proximity of our fine government housing projects...this way the project kids can get on the fast track to future (jails and prisons)

corgimom
36811
Points
corgimom 06/28/13 - 04:11 pm
0
0
Little Lamb, the school

Little Lamb, the school district would be thrilled to dump those properties. Nobody wants them.

They are full of lead paint and asbestos, they cost millions just to demolish. Even selling for $1, they cost more to demolish than the property is worth.

They are the DAIDEST white elephants. The school board has tried, and tried, and tried. That's one of the few things that they have done right.

Most of those old school properties have problems, back in the day, people used to donate land, and they didn't donate the good land, they donated the part of their land that they couldn't use.

As for a four day work week- the savings are minimal, and by the time you deal with the enormous problems you would have by having 33,000 students unattended and running loose, it's cheaper to have a 5 day week.

Do you want to pay for schools, or courts and social workers and jails and police?

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs