Perdue's cuts cost schools millions

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The Richmond County school system has been dealt another multimillion-dollar blow, complicating an already precarious financial situation.

Eight days ago, the school board raised property taxes as high as it legally could, the final step in balancing its budget and offsetting a $13.4 million shortfall. And now the board finds itself dealing with another shortfall brought on by a worsening state economy.

On Friday, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced plans to withhold 6 percent of state funding for all agencies, 5 percent from Medicaid and 2 percent from K-12 school systems to avoid a special session of the General Assembly.

The governor's plan will defer $1.6 billion in total spending. About $3.3 million will be withheld from Richmond County schools, said Gene Spires, the school system's controller.

On Monday, Mr. Spires couldn't say specifically how the school system would handle the cut.

"Since the situation we're in is already severe, it's not going to be good," Mr. Spires said.

To offset the $13.4 million shortfall, the school board raised property taxes, dug deep into its financial reserves and slashed its budget, including the elimination of most out-of-town travel.

The board also eliminated 17 unfilled teaching positions, counting on enrollment to decline. The positions were added to the budget to ensure that all classrooms adhered to the state's class size mandates. Richmond County received waivers to exceed the class limits for a year but was warned that waivers likely would not be granted if requested again this school year.

Columbia County's cut is $2.1 million, Controller Pat Sullivan said in an e-mail, but she didn't know what the reduction will mean for the school system.

"It is too early to say how we would adjust our budget until we get specifics from (the governor's) office," she said.

The 2 percent state cut eliminates money legislators gave school systems above what Mr. Perdue had requested, Bert Brantley, the governor's press secretary, said Monday.

"Even with the 2 percent being reduced, it's still more (funding) than it was in (fiscal) '08," he said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

THE IMPACT:


Reducing state funding by 2 percent represents millions of dollars in reductions for local school systems.


Richmond County: $3.3 million


COLUMBIA COUNTY: $2.1 million

Sources: Richmond County and Columbia County school systems

Comments (22) Add comment
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DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 08/05/08 - 05:53 am
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Guess who will pick up That

Guess who will pick up That Tab? Don't keep taxing us, we only have minimum wage around here cause there are no new businesses coming into the area that pay more!

55 F-100
1
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55 F-100 08/05/08 - 06:29 am
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Sonny Perdue will be

Sonny Perdue will be remembered in history as the worst Governor the state of Georgia has ever had, as well as being a pathological liar about promises he makes. The demands that he has made on state agencies to reduce their budet is impossible to accomplish. I know of what I speak since I am an employee in one of these agencies. Sonny, you lied about letting the citizens of Georgia vote on the flag issue, you lied to the teachers about improving the schools, and you lie to all of us employees about our raises, our budget funding, and you propose impossible cutbacks. Why don't you resign in disgrace and run back to Bon Aire, and spay and neuter some cats and dogs instead of financially spaying and neutering the State of Georgia? We don't want to hear excuses from you, we just want to hear you say "Goodbye".

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 08/05/08 - 06:48 am
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Well I for one didn't vote

Well I for one didn't vote for him.

JohnQPublic
5
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JohnQPublic 08/05/08 - 07:06 am
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Ditto that 55!

Ditto that 55!

TheTruth
1
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TheTruth 08/05/08 - 07:10 am
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Sonny is short-sighted. He

Sonny is short-sighted. He seems like he's talking out both sides of his mouth. He wants the quality of education to increase, mandates raises in salaries (a good thing), but turns around and cuts the budget. God forbid that he might actually have to work with the legislature increase revenue. Education has been abused enough. Why not raise corporate taxes or lift the cap on state income taxes? Oh, I know why...that's his base, you know, the rich people.

I4PUTT
5
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I4PUTT 08/05/08 - 08:00 am
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I say stop all taxes for

I say stop all taxes for anyone who makes less than $150,000 per year. We'll call anyone whom makes more than that rich. Then let's up to their tax rate to 75%. Then poor hard working folks can get the free ride they want and of course, deserve. Then see how many new jobs are created by rich folks. For aneducator you have no idea. There is way too much money being spent on a broken education system already. Schools don't need fancy cafeterias with salad bars. The BOE office is over staffed with non workers. Sell off unused school property. Reconsider bussing routes. For that matter, reconsider bussing. Parents can get their kids to school. Stop free breakfast and lunch. Surely parents can fix a sandwich.

I4PUTT
5
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I4PUTT 08/05/08 - 08:03 am
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If the economy is bad, stop

If the economy is bad, stop crying for the government to do more. Do things to help yourself. A free education is a wonderful thing. We should appreciate it.

double_standard
166
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double_standard 08/05/08 - 08:29 am
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Sonny is an idiot. All these

Sonny is an idiot. All these cuts but he's still flying around GA and the land he bought in Fla on his helicopter. But like always you people will blame that on the dems. Sonny also has us footing the bill for the road widening across the bridge. I think I'll run for govenor next time if all I have to do is give neighboring states or money and water.

mojo
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mojo 08/05/08 - 08:42 am
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At what point will people

At what point will people learn simple economics. When income shrinks so must expenses - by becoming more productive and efficient service can actually be improved. The fact is they still have the same budget as last year only less students - seems like funding should shrink.

whitesouthafricean
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whitesouthafricean 08/05/08 - 08:50 am
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Now maybe we will get rid of

Now maybe we will get rid of many of those high paid sit on your azz positions. Time to cut the fat, boys, time to cut the fat!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 08/05/08 - 08:53 am
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I have watched posters

I have watched posters complain that spending should be reduced rather than taxes increased. A 'Well Done" to Gov. Perdue for announcing the State's plans to cut spending. Maybe this will be the wake-up call for fiscal responsibility by both local government and the BOE.

noway
201
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noway 08/05/08 - 08:57 am
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14PUTT, you fail to realize

14PUTT, you fail to realize that people who make less than $150,000 are doing all of the work to keep the rest of the population rich. The rich think that everyone gets the same opportunities and can afford things as easy as them, but it doesn't work like that. People have different desires and IQs for a reason, to make the world go 'round. People with low income pay taxes too and don't want a free ride. Don't put all of us in the same category. I pay my way and DON'T complain. Some parents CAN'T afford the same things you can, so give them a break. And kids can't help what poor families they are born into. And believe it or not, here in America, some families CAN'T afford food for their kids, but you don't understand that. All you can do is judge.

LaTwon
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LaTwon 08/05/08 - 09:23 am
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the welfare state is

the welfare state is imploding. the medicaid budget is more than the whole state budget was 15 years ago. the over bloated
govt agencies and cradle to grave dependency has done us in.....

neversurprised
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neversurprised 08/05/08 - 10:49 am
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remove perdue

remove perdue

whitesouthafricean
0
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whitesouthafricean 08/05/08 - 11:24 am
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Maybe this will give bedden

Maybe this will give bedden some direction!!!

godogs
0
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godogs 08/05/08 - 01:43 pm
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I think the teachers need

I think the teachers need their raises, but the rest of us state employees need ours just as much. We have degrees just like teachers do and now hear the employees insurance rates are going up to as much as 10% in December. Does Perdue think we other state employees don't need our paychecks as much as the teachers. Why are they expempt in getting their raises. We provide as much a valuable service to the State of Georgia as the teachers do. I am republican and have always voted as such but I think Perdue will go down as one of the worst in the history of Georgia. I think anyone elected to any office should have a masters in Economics and Accouanting before even being considered for any public office. We the working don't get free meals for our kids at school, we don't get free medical or school supplies for our kids. We buy it ALL. When it is all said and done after we pay for ours and the low incomes cost of living our income level is less than the unemployed who get everything free.

Captain Awesome
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Captain Awesome 08/05/08 - 01:45 pm
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It's not as if the RC BOE

It's not as if the RC BOE wasn't already making cuts and selling off unused property. I'm all for cutting the fat, and this might be an oppurtunity for some, but we need a better heads up for this sort of thing. We also need the local community to step up and help the schools. (Volunteer, tutor, look after your kids, look after your kids' friends)

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 08/05/08 - 03:40 pm
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Captain Awesome: They had an

Captain Awesome: They had an audit and now they are paying to have a study so they can decide which cuts to make. What cuts have they made? What unused property have they sold? Please enlighten me.

Spurs07
1
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Spurs07 08/05/08 - 03:42 pm
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In this time of economic

In this time of economic hardships, Schools are going to have to run more like businessess. They are going to have to do a better job of placing increased revenue in reserve funds when the economy is doing well and cut back when economic times are hard. This means cutting back programs that prove ineffective and not hiring as many school personnel and even NOT building new schools especially in an area where the school's enrollment is fallen. Cutting positions at the B.O.E building is needed as well. The Richmond County B.O.E. needs to work harder at increasing the reputation of the schools so when people move here they will send their children to the schools instead of Columbia County. The CSRA Augusta/Aiken area believe it or not is a fast growing area but Richmond County is not growing like Aiken and Columbia Counties are due to the Bad reputation and poor planning models from the Commission to the B.O.E..

disssman
6
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disssman 08/05/08 - 04:00 pm
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I think what sonny is saying

I think what sonny is saying is get rid of the unneeded. For instance, do we really need a public relations expert? or do we need a teacher? Can't afford both so which do we get rid of. Do we need high speed cruisers for RCBOE police or should they drive their private cars to school, like all the teachers? We need to get rid of them. I saw where we are funding a chinese teacher at a cost of about $17,000 for travel and lodging. Well I guess that isn't as important as more teachers so cancell it. If we had a true picture of the budget I am sure that many other items could be scrubbed at to impact to the system.

enana03
0
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enana03 08/05/08 - 08:08 pm
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If the waste was completely

If the waste was completely cut from the budget, there would be no need to reduce personnel and increase the burden on the back of the taxpayers. We HAVE to live on a budget and the BOE should as well instead of spend, spend, spend and increase taxes to make up the difference.

mable8
2
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mable8 08/07/08 - 07:08 pm
0
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What a stupid decision; cut

What a stupid decision; cut off health care and education, but make darn sure the legislatures get their pay raises! I did not vote for that bozo in Atlanta's whitehouse and will be glad when he is out of office.

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