School board faces tough financial calls

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Faced with a $24.5 million shortfall, the Richmond County school board is considering a list of unpleasant options, including furloughs, but those cuts are just the beginning.

"This is going to be very difficult," Director of Finance and Accounting Anita Faglier said. "There is going to be a lot of pain."

The financial decisions are so tough that this is the first time in at least 23 years that the school board will be presented with an unbalanced budget, she said.

"It was such a large gap we need everybody to work together," Controller Gene Spires said.

Even last year when hit with a $13.4 million shortfall, a balanced budget was presented.

But Richmond County's student enrollment continues to fall, costs to operate the school system continue to climb and cuts to the state's education funding formula continue to mount.

The school board will meet Monday for its first hearing on the fiscal year 2010 budget.

School officials quietly trimmed $12 million from its expenses throughout the school year, primarily through energy-saving measures.

The $24.5 million shortfall was also whittled down to just under $18 million through several measures. For instance, increasing class sizes will enable the school system to cut 43 teaching positions, mostly through attrition, to account for $2.9 million in savings, the biggest reduction in the proposed budget.

Now the board is considering a list of options to save $10 million more, and the cuts would just be the beginning. Even if the board goes with all of the options, it would leave an $8 million gap.

Among the more significant options being considered are furloughs, the use of stimulus money, pay cuts, cutting custodian positions and layoffs.

The furloughs would apply to all employees, except bus drivers and 190-day certified employees, which includes teachers, counselors and media specialists.

State law requires 190-day certified employees to work that amount of time, and it's not practical to furlough bus drivers because they only work the length of the school year, 180 days.

Each furlough day would save $248,928, and the option given to the board is to mandate four.

About $3.2 million in stimulus funding could help plug the financial hole. Originally, officials didn't know this was permitted.

Another option is to cut the local supplement for 190-day certified staff by $750. This had been considered a year ago, but was dropped by the school board during budget hearings. School systems, such as Richmond County, attract teachers by using local revenue to pay above the state teacher pay scale. In Richmond County, the local supplement ranges from $2,350 to $3,550.

The school board could also cut 25.5 custodial positions. Fewer custodians will be needed with the purchase of automatic scrubbers, which make cleaning quicker.

A bright spot might be the school board's "rightsizing," the process it is going through to determine the best use of its facilities.

Next school year, the board will move pupils from Milledge Elementary to Lamar Elementary while a new Milledge is constructed, but the estimated $1.5 million saved in operation costs weren't factored into the budget because it was drafted before the board approved the school merger.

Those savings could help balance the budget and reduce the shortfall.

The school board's budgets have steadily become more difficult to balance in recent years.

"The state has passed on tremendous austerity reductions," Mrs. Faglier said. "Basically, they're taking money from us."

The state divvies up education funding primarily based on a formula. Unfortunately, it cannot fully fund the formula's allocations, so it must reduce the amount promised -- a so-called "austerity reduction." For fiscal year 2010, Richmond County's reduction will be $13.9 million. Since fiscal year 2003 the cumulative reductions will total nearly $52.6 million by next year.

"When you take and take and take, you reach a point when you have no where to give it up," Mrs. Faglier said.

The board's meeting will begin at 10 a.m. Monday. A final budget must be adopted by the end of June.

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

SCHOOL BUDGET OPTIONS

Some of the reductions being considered by the Richmond County school board could be offset or lessened by cutting general fund funding and using money from other sources. Here are some of the options and the potential savings to the general fund:

- Eliminating or reducing the extended program day at Murphey Middle School: $427,600

- Eliminating or reducing extended day at Collins Elementary School: $142,216

- Eliminating or reducing extended day or summer school at high schools: $279,155

- Eliminating or reducing the after-school program: $1,056,822

- Furlough all employees four days except 190-day certified staff and bus drivers: $995,712

- Reduce the local supplement for 190-day certified staff by $750: $1,987,080

- Cut 25.5 custodial positions because of the purchase of auto scrubbers: $454,950

Source: Richmond County Board of Education

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dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 05/17/09 - 04:58 am
0
0
I watched the school board
Unpublished

I watched the school board meeting on comcast yesterday and after watching this meeting I have a clear picture of what is wrong
with our school system and the shortfall in the budget. I always
thought school was for education, not baby sitting! What is up with the extended day or after school programs, it's up to the parents to have someone watch their children after school and not have some program that is costing taxpayers money to provide daycare for these kids. The school board needs to act
in a fiscal responsible manner and cut these programs, merge
some schools and get use to tightening your budget. People
are jobless, others are financially strained to say the least, and
some are losing their homes! Get real, cut spending and quit
relying on the Federal gov. to support the budget, Obama and congress have put their solution for the economy to work by
giving money to every cause, but this will be paid back by all
americans for a long time. Look for tax to be place on everything
you purchase and everything you do for recreation, then at
election time the congress will say they did not raise income tax,
but in actuality congress raised all the hidden taxes!

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 05/17/09 - 05:04 am
0
0
This is cool. Layoff an

This is cool. Layoff an employee who makes $28k and keep one (on the payroll) who draws $78k or $88k a year. Smart move......Way to go Dr. Bedden.

lylagirl
1
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lylagirl 05/17/09 - 05:15 am
0
0
Is that so....Well if your

Is that so....Well if your wonderful Super would stop creating jobs for people at the top, maybe there wouldn't be a budget problem. Again, why don't he give up his big bonuses to help offset the budget, after all, at the end of the day, the children are all that matters...right? I don't understand RCSS and those Board members, what are you all thinking. I am so tired of hearing about money, money, money. The RCSS belongs to the community, not Bedden, and it appers this man is creating more havoc than ever before. Get it together or maybe we need to VOTE on a new Board and bring back the voting of a Super!!!!!!! People need their jobs! Are you going to furlough the Super as well? PLEASE...This is CRAZY!!!!!

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 05/17/09 - 05:24 am
0
0
Budget shortfall?---Dr.

Budget shortfall?---Dr. Bedden needs to reach out and ask his 5,000 plus employees how they would cut waste and fat and balance the budget...He would receive over 5,000 ideas...

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 05/17/09 - 05:29 am
0
0
Well I just gave him one, all

Well I just gave him one, all he needs now is 4999.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 05/17/09 - 05:47 am
0
0
Dr. Bedden needs to take a

Dr. Bedden needs to take a hard look at pay cuts..ie: an employee makes $88k a year....Cut his/her pay to $81k...If they don't like it they can leave...Question......How are you going to balance the budget if you don't make cuts?

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 05/17/09 - 06:03 am
0
0
First 100,000 comes by firing

First 100,000 comes by firing Julia Porter Stein instead of reassigning an employee failing to perform their duties. Second comes about $750,000.00 in duplicated salaries at the BOE offices by removing all duplicated positions and non-essential personnel. Next, bring discipline back into your schools and remove those in HS who fail to conform to policies and procedures which will easily delete the need for some teachers once you remove all students who don't want to learn.

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 05/17/09 - 06:50 am
0
0
Based upon some of the above

Based upon some of the above comments, it appers that some people do not understand what a furlough means. In simple terms, furloughs are pay cuts and the higher the person’s salary, the higher the dollar value per day being cut from their salary. Each day furloughed is based upon the amount of money a person makes in a day. The higher salaried people get paid more per day, thus the dollar value of their cut in pay will be higher (including top administrators). Remember those who complain about consolidating schools. If you read the list, you see a spread of cuts to be shared by everyone and programs. Everyone who is quick to say get rid of those bad students, they probably should consider updating their understanding of school law and the state regulations. DAMY46, Is there anything stopping the employee(s) from making suggestions? The financial challenges facing education is a state and national issue, not just Augusta.

Ga Values
27
Points
Ga Values 05/17/09 - 07:09 am
0
0
Cut the cost of the central

Cut the cost of the central office in half, if that's not enough cut it again. Cut waste not teachers.

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 05/17/09 - 07:42 am
0
0
This from the same people

This from the same people that cried when there was talk about cutting the bonuses of CEO's?

lylagirl
1
Points
lylagirl 05/17/09 - 08:02 am
0
0
CociserThis, the people who

CociserThis, the people who will be umemployed are not really concerned with eduation being a state, national or even local problem, these people's lives are in jeopardy. I am sure furloughs are not that hard to understand. How will the public know if "top administrators" will receive furloughs as well. PLEASE!!!! It seems to me that Mr. oh I am sorry, Dr. Bedden doesn't really care about anyone but the big people and his crew.

Chuchi
2
Points
Chuchi 05/17/09 - 09:01 am
0
0
colcamp1: CEO's used to be

colcamp1: CEO's used to be paid by the private companies they worked for with the revenues -- not tax dollars extracted from citizens -- generated by the companies' private enterprises. So it didn't matter if the CEO's got bonuses because private businesses can basically do whatever they like with their money, within certain legal perameters. Now the federal govt has shelled out stimulus money, i.e. our tax money and borrowed money we have to pay back with interest, and it was actually distributed with virtually no oversight and no strings attached. So a portion of our money, which has been so liberally and generously given to certain corporations without our permission by politicians who didn't read the bill before signing it, got spent on fat checks for CEO's of failing businesses. Public school employees are paid directly by the state which is financed through taxpayer dollars. I don't personally know of any employees of failing schools who receive bonuses paid by us. Maybe you do; I don't. But comparing CEO bonuses to budget shortfalls in the public school system is a bit of an apples-and-oranges thing.

Chuchi
2
Points
Chuchi 05/17/09 - 09:13 am
0
0
I do understand what your

I do understand what your point is though, since the CEO's have received taxpayer money now, thanks to our wise and far-seeing politicians who don't read before they sign. But the problem is that the money was given to these companies with no restrictions on any utilization of it. Restrictions on the use of the funds was not written into the bill. So to shriek at the CEO's now for using this free, unearned money in whatever way they wish is a waste of oxygen. The govt has no legal right to try to restrict them now that the bill has been passed and the monies have been paid. It's too late. They can't do a do-over. The companies got what they wanted and nobody can really holler at them; the CEO's didn't sign that bill. The politicians, including the Chief, screwed this one up royally, make no mistake about it. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of those who leaped before they looked: the politicians who signed the bill.

Bored in GA
2
Points
Bored in GA 05/17/09 - 09:34 am
0
0
Why not look into

Why not look into transportation issues where employees are not really needed for jobs they have "CREATED".. Why muust they be over there all summer when if the buses were kept up all year they would not need so much summer repairs!!

Son of God
0
Points
Son of God 05/17/09 - 09:56 am
0
0
I have read your postings and

I have read your postings and in maybe one or two, THE CHILDREN are mentioned.What is best for the CHILDREN since we as (SOME SO CALLED)EDUCATORS are suppose to PUT CHILDREN FIRST AND HELP THEM TO BECOME LIFELONG LEARNERS. I have heard everything else from a selfish me, myself, and I circumstance. Now what about the REASON FOR THE SEASON, THE CHILDREN? How dare someone would comment to put the bad ones out! God's word says for us to suffer little children to come unto me(God) and forbid them not. "It is better to tie a millstone around your neck than to harm THE LEAST OF MY LITTLE ONES," saith the Lord. ALL THINGS work TOGETHER for those who love the Lord and are CALLED FOR HIS (GOD) PURPOSE. Man's goings are of the Lord, how then can he find his own way? It is a fact that most SO CALLED SUPERIORS who are the CEO"S of our children are in their positions for the money. Their hearts are far from the children. They never see them, help them, or even care for them. When was the last time one CEO actually came and supported the teachers and students with TRUE , HONEST, AND HEARTFELT CONCERNS? I pray in Jesus name that God will get the Glory from all of the actions of ALL RCBOE CEOS AMEN

Whatthetruth
0
Points
Whatthetruth 05/17/09 - 10:02 am
0
0
What about cutting all of

What about cutting all of the"out of district" companies that RCSS is paying millions of dollars to, just to advise or whatever they are doing. Also, what about the NEW Superintendent cabinet positions that were created, we went from 5 top officials to 9 top cabinet positions with huge salaries! How is this an effective measure? What about all of the job duplications at Central office and all of the many secretaries? Don't you think looking at the spending at Central office should bare reality scrutiny? How about posting the expenditures that have been made in the past year to out sourcing and so on... which is the best kept secret! Dr. Bedden is a fast talking, man with many faces and a secret agenda! NO one sees it, especially the board! Increasing class sizes will increase discipline problems and overburden the all ready overburden teachers. So now the board is saying cut teachers pay, increase their workload, while under appreciating and disrespecting teachers at every turn. As a tax payer, I personally would like to see an expenditure report for the last year. ( a complete report, not the doctored version.)

JustMe
0
Points
JustMe 05/17/09 - 10:32 am
0
0
This is really funny....we

This is really funny....we had 35 kids in a class when I was growing up. Also the parents were responsible for the children, not the school systems. Very few disipline problems. 3 more kids from 21 to 24 are not going to hurt the system. How about free breakfasts to every student? That would save money. In my state we pay for our kids breakfast. When the schools close for furlough that means no one is working and everyone is getting docked a days pay. It's not the school system that is broken, it is the families (and definitely not all of them). But make the family responsible for feeding their kids, isn't that what their foodstamps are for!!!

JustMe
0
Points
JustMe 05/17/09 - 10:32 am
0
0
This is really funny....we

This is really funny....we had 35 kids in a class when I was growing up. Also the parents were responsible for the children, not the school systems. Very few disipline problems. 3 more kids from 21 to 24 are not going to hurt the system. How about free breakfasts to every student? That would save money. In my state we pay for our kids breakfast. When the schools close for furlough that means no one is working and everyone is getting docked a days pay. It's not the school system that is broken, it is the families (and definitely not all of them). But make the family responsible for feeding their kids, isn't that what their foodstamps are for!!!

factfinder
6
Points
factfinder 05/17/09 - 10:44 am
0
0
There are so many hidden

There are so many hidden variables with respect to school budgets and salaries therefore cutting the school budget is not that simple. I would not be surprised that the average board member does not understand how and why some salaries are highter than others, and here in lies the problem. For example ieducators' salaries are based on degree and years of experience, however it is possible for teachers, principals, and other school staff to earn more by working in special programs. Some of these programs are ineffective not because of the design of the program but in many cases who is hired to work in the program (the same people who are ineffective in their primary job, which required a need for the program in the first place). Therefore hiring and maintaining ineffective school staff is a drain on the budget. I know that this information does not help in finding an immediate solution to the county's problem, however I sincerely believe that it does account for some of the financial burden the district is experiencing. i.e. Having to settle lawsuits due to promotioning and firing personnel in a manner that was obviously illegal. We need board members who will ? NOT APPROVE!

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 05/17/09 - 11:22 am
0
0
Want to cut waste/fat and

Want to cut waste/fat and spending?--Dr. Bedden needs to direct every department and every school to install an 'anonymous suggestion box'. He would receive a thousand ideas on how to balance the budget.........

factfinder
6
Points
factfinder 05/17/09 - 11:25 am
0
0
Whatthetruth as a concerned

Whatthetruth as a concerned taxpayer and citizen who understands the importance of having an educated populace I am also concerned about the issues that you have raised!

braxtonkbragg_
0
Points
braxtonkbragg_ 05/17/09 - 11:25 am
0
0
Cut the fat and do away with

Cut the fat and do away with freebies. If sports must go do that too. After all the function of schools is to provide an education, uh, right?

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 05/17/09 - 11:38 am
0
0
When will the RCBOE place

When will the RCBOE place on-line a record of every expenditure of funds appropriated under its $250K+ budget to each of its 5K employees, numerous vendors, professional advisers, etc. on the most-recent-monthly and fiscal-year-to-date bases? President Barnes and Dr. Bedden will need steadfast parental and taxpayer support to improve our kids' educational opportunities in these trying economic times! Making RCBOE financial transactions readily available for parental and taxpayer scrutiny would do much to generate that steadfast public support.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 05/17/09 - 11:39 am
0
0
CORRECTION: $250M+ budget,

CORRECTION: $250M+ budget, not $250K+ budget.

factfinder
6
Points
factfinder 05/17/09 - 11:49 am
0
0
Cutting JAUNITORS come on,

Cutting JAUNITORS come on, they are probably the lowest paid group and they perform a service that is definitely needed (helping to keep the schools clean and sanitary) what about cutting the graduation coaches and instructional coaches positions, those positions are relatively new and what are their job descriptions anyway (to do something that someone else was hired to do but is not doing). While you are at it cut the job of those six figured (or almost six figured people) whose job is to be more visible in the schools (to justify having a job??). WAKE UP BOARD MEMBERS ask for a list of jobs, descriptions, and salaries ASK QUESTIONS about the need for the job and the cost effectiveness of the job, ignore WHO is in the position.

Whatthetruth
0
Points
Whatthetruth 05/17/09 - 12:01 pm
0
0
GO factfinder!! CITIZENS

GO factfinder!! CITIZENS NEED TO SHOW UP AT BOARD MEETINGS AND EXPRESS THESE VIEW POINTS in an open forum. factfinder, you stated "Having to settle lawsuits due to promotioning and firing personnel in a manner that was obviously illegal. We need board members who will ? NOT APPROVE" I must say AMEN! Follow the law and quit mistreating people for personal vendettas! Can I add, that board members need to seek out the true facts, instead of the whitewash versions that they get from Dr. Bedden and his cabinet clones.

Whatthetruth
0
Points
Whatthetruth 05/17/09 - 12:03 pm
0
0
Where is the money coming

Where is the money coming from for the NEW Tubman Alternative program center?

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 05/17/09 - 12:37 pm
0
0
lylagirl I suggest you attend

lylagirl I suggest you attend the Board meetings surrounding the budget and you will see who gets cut. Even the paper says "Furlough all employees four days except 190-day certified staff and bus drivers" which would include the central office administrators. So if we want to make sure if "all" means all, we should attend the budget meetings.

class1
299
Points
class1 05/17/09 - 12:43 pm
0
0
First, start by contracting

First, start by contracting the out the lunch room staff, transportation, and custodians. In the long run you would save millions. Second, get rid of all the consultants who are double dipping into the system. Finally, get rid of graduation, math, and language arts coaches. Put them back into the classrooms.

bone
23
Points
bone 05/17/09 - 01:02 pm
0
0
cut the fine arts! build more

cut the fine arts! build more stadiums! hire more security! classify more students as "special needs" to increase federal funding! raise coaching salaries! there, i think i've fixed everything.

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