Originally created 06/14/06

School budget gets early OK



Columbia County's school board gave tentative approval to its proposed 2006-07 budget Tuesday.

The budget totals more than $151 million - about $1.7 million more than the expected revenue for the 2006-07 school year. But Superintendent Tommy Price told the board he doesn't expect that deficit to be as extreme as it seems.

School officials budgeted only $1 million in revenue from the midterm adjustment - when more state money is granted to school systems based on their first-semester growth. Last year, the school system received $2.4 million as the midterm adjustment.

"The midterm was considered in the budget to be at about a million," Mr. Price said. "I'd be willing to bet right now another million that we are going to get $2 million rather than one."

The extra $1 million would knock that budget deficit to $700,000, Mr. Price said.

Among new projected costs for the upcoming year are 101 new positions driven by growth, including more than 60 teachers and nearly 30 paraprofessionals - many because of state mandates to reduce class sizes; a 4 percent pay raise for education employees; eight new buses as part of the system's program to replace older buses; and replacing computer equipment more than five years old.

School board members will likely give the budget final approval at the next meeting, set for 6 p.m. June 27 at their new offices on Hereford Farm Road in Evans.

Also on Tuesday, school officials appointed Tom Smallwood to the open assistant principal position at Riverside Middle School.

Mr. Smallwood will replace Merrell Garner, who resigned to move out of town.

"It was a hard decision for me, but it's a good career path for me," Mr. Smallwood said. He called the decision to leave Greenbrier was "agonizing."

Mr. Smallwood taught at Riverside Middle for four years before moving to Greenbrier. He has spent 19 years directing band programs, including four years at Richmond County's Westside High School.

"I'm so excited," Mr. Smallwood said. He said Greenbrier's band is strong and will continue its fine reputation with another director at the helm. "It is a good opportunity for me."

Reach Valerie Rowell at 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.