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Richmond County teachers may have five less furlough days next year in proposed budget

Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:30 PM
Last updated Friday, April 18, 2014 1:41 AM
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With a softer blow expected to hit Georgia’s education funding next fiscal year, the Rich­mond County Board of Edu­ca­tion is planning to eliminate five furlough days in the 2014-15 budget, restoring the full 180-day instructional calendar for the first time in at least three years. 

According to the proposed budget presented Thursday, employees will still be furloughed on four non-student days to save the district about $4 million.

Compared with the nine furlough days the district implemented last year, Richmond Coun­ty Technical Career Magnet School Principal Renee Kelly said the change is encouraging.

“It’s really going to help with morale of the teachers,” she said. “There’s a lot of teachers working second jobs to get by, and most importantly, it will be putting students back in the classrooms.”

The board will set dates for additional meetings to discuss the budget before it must be passed at the end of June.

Controller Gene Spires said part of the relief is due to the fact that the state restored some education funding that has been withheld since 2003.

In the state’s proposed budget passed by the Georgia Gen­eral Assembly earlier this year and awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature, about $300 million was added for education to reduce the $1 billion in austerity cuts last year.

Richmond County will have $14 million withheld in state funding, and while steep, that is $6 million less than in 2013-14.

Superintendent Frank Ro­ber­son said the budget was also bolstered by savings created by principals and staffs at the school level. Last year, principals had to cut 7 percent of their school budgets, and were asked to hold the line for 2014-15. Along with cutting down on utility usage, schools saved $400,000 together by reducing their dependence on substitute teachers.

“We were able to achieve savings because of the hard work of the principals and the sacrifices they made working with their staffs,” Roberson said.

The budget also avoided a blow from previously expected increases in state health insurance. The share of health care costs districts had to pay for non-certified employees more than tripled since 2010 and was expected to rise again next year but remained at last year’s rate of $7,154 per employee.

Spires warned that the proposed budget included using $13 million of reserve funds to balance revenues and expenditures, leaving about $12 million, enough to cover about two weeks of expenses in case of emergency.

“That’s a number I’m not thrilled about, but to make this budget work, that’s what we had to do,” he said. “It’s not
the first time we got down that low.”

Board member Jack Padgett said he is still encouraged by the financial state of the district, considering where it came from.

“The extra $6 million we got from the state is going to help,” he said. “Certainly it’s not enough, but at least we didn’t lose another $5 million.”

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Sweet son
Sweet son 04/18/14 - 11:22 am
Budget! Too funny!

The Board and the Commission have no idea how to manage a budget. Augusta is on the right track to be Detroit South. You just can't keep robbing the piggy bank to make your budget work.

Simple question? What happens when the piggy bank is empty? Then hard cuts will be necessary! Why not try to make easier cuts now before it gets to that point.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 04/18/14 - 11:49 am

From the story:

Controller Gene Spires said part of the relief is due to the fact that the state restored some education funding that has been withheld since 2003. Richmond County will have $14 million withheld in state funding, and while steep, that is $6 million less than in 2013-14.

These educrats create a jargon that is not helpful. Let's face it, the state government does not withhold money from local school systems. It grants money to local school systems. Just because you get a certain amount one year, that does not automatically entitle you to the same or greater amount next year. Yes, the state was rolling in tax money in 2006 and 2007 and funds were coming to school systems hand over fist. Then when the recession hit, income tax and sales tax revenues went down, so the state sent less money to school systems in 2008, 2009, etc.

If these educrats think they will ever have a chance of recovering this phantom withheld money, they are living in la la land.

bright idea
bright idea 04/18/14 - 06:35 pm
Confused LL?

The state mandates services that a BOE must provide and there is a state funding formula established by law for those services. When the state fails to follow its own funding formula, as they have done for years now, the local BOE gets stuck with unfunded mandates. Local property taxes, ESPLOST and cuts have to provide the difference. That is why the words "withheld" and "cuts" are accurate. The state is shorting RC $14 million based on what they should get according to the state's own formula, not Spires' whims. The money is indeed phantom because the state won't live up to the obligation it made for itself.

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