Richmond County school budget awaits OK

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The Richmond County Board of Education could adopt a budget today that requires nearly all of its employees to chip in to offset a $24.5 million shortfall.

Completing the fiscal year 2010 budget proved so daunting that school administrators did something unprecedented. They presented board members with an unbalanced budget and sought their help in slicing millions out of it.

The monthslong process has wiped out the shortfall and whittled the proposed budget down to $255,241,336. On June 4, the school board gave tentative approval, but state law required two weeks to pass before a final adoption.

Into the hole

Several factors came together to put the school system into its $24,558,675 hole.

The largest factor was an $11 million "adjustment" to the state's education funding formula. That's the difference in what Richmond County earned through the formula and what Georgia is giving the school system.

Richmond County also took a $9 million hit from expenses related to health care. Most of that is the result of the state increasing the school system's share of health care costs.

Also contributing to the shortfall, the school board relied on one-time fixes to plug a financial hole last year, including digging into its reserves and selling vacant properties, some of which didn't sell.

The costs of doing business have also risen, such as minimum wage and retirement costs.

Plan to get out

The proposed budget requires nearly every school employee to help reduce the budget shortfall, but avoids anyone losing a job.

All certified employees with 190-day contracts, which includes teachers, counselors and media specialists, along with bus drivers will have their pay reduced the equivalent of four days. For teachers, this comes from their local supplement.

All other employees will be furloughed four days, which means they will be required to take off four unpaid days.

The only employees not affected are the maintenance and custodial employees who had their pay reduced last year.

The smallest pay cut would be paraprofessionals, who would lose $67.67 per day, and the largest would be Superintendent Dana Bedden, who would lose $764.62 per day. Among other measures being taken to balance the budget, the proposal also calls for:

- Increasing class size and reducing 43 teaching positions;

- Increasing student parking fees to $25;

- Increasing locker fees to $10;

- Eliminating the following open positions: textbook warehouseman, 25.5 custodial positions, one central office coordinator, one psychologist, one assistant principal, one data clerk and one media specialist; and

- Leaving the assistant superintendent for administrative services position vacant for one year.

About $3.2 million in federal stimulus money will be used to pay for dozens of teaching positions that would have been cut.

For a complete presentation on the budget, go to the school board's Web site at www.rcboe.org and click on "Richmond County School System 2010 Budget."

Other shortfalls

The fiscal year 2010 shortfall is only the latest for the Richmond County school system.

In June 2007, the school board cut $19 million to balance its budget.

A few months later, in October 2007, another $1.6 million was slashed.

In June 2008, the board offset a $13.4 million shortfall. During the year, another $12 million was cut from the budget.

Finance and Accounting Director Anita Faglier said more cuts could be on the horizon. If the state's economy doesn't turn around, a special session of the General Assembly will need to be called and more cuts could be made.

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

WHAT'S NEXT?

The Richmond County school board will hold a special called meeting at 9 this morning to consider giving final approval to the fiscal year 2010 budget.

Comments (7) Add comment
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casimir56
21
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casimir56 06/18/09 - 03:29 am
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You can cut over $100K by

You can cut over $100K by eliminating George Bailey and his one secretary. Why does RCBOE need a County wide Athletic Director? Each school has one, let them do what they are paid to do. This position "must" be one to help maintain compliance with the 1972 court order.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 06/18/09 - 03:45 am
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How much do the Fletcher firm

How much do the Fletcher firm and the plaintiff's attorney "earn" from the RCBOE in insuring that the school board is in compliance with the 1972 federal court order?

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 06/18/09 - 03:49 am
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Correct me if I am wrong,

Correct me if I am wrong, please, teachers are now going to be reduced in pay for 4 days at their hourly rate instead of the $750.00 that was previously presented, yet they will be required to work on those days for free? While Central office staff will have the 4 days off without pay? How is this justified? My goodness, Bedden is paid almost $800 a day and he is asking for a raise and a bonus? I still have not heard what the budget for outsourcing for the year or if the million dollars paid to that grant writing company and that reading company is still in the budget? What about the new positions that are being hired for that is showing in the RCBOE board minutes from the last meeting? Why is the special call meeting being held at 9:00 am when those who would want to attend could not because of working hours? From I am told the coordinator position for Social Studies, has not been filled in the last two years, yet there was a new coordinator's position created for coordination of instructional coaches, not to mention the other new job descriptions that have been added. This is surreal, if you are not going to pay someone for time they work they should not be forced to work.

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 06/18/09 - 03:59 am
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Furloughs and pay cuts,

Furloughs and pay cuts, simply stated is semantics; a simple play on words to gain buyin from the public, teachers, media specialist and counselors. Central office or 12 month employees will simply take vacation days for the days they are furloughed and not lose a dime. The 190 day employees don't earn vacation time and don't have that luxury. I know that the economic times call for tough decisions, but be fair with your decision making and look at the whole picture, you should not be spending additional money or unnecessary things, while you are causing those who work for you to suffer, this increase cut in pay will be a lot more than $750.00 as previously stated.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 06/18/09 - 07:58 am
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why not suspend all athletic

why not suspend all athletic programs for one month...let me get this straight..eliminate teachers and do nothing regarding trimming, reducing or suspending athletics....yeah i see where the priorities of the morons on the richmond county boe are.....

Cestlavie
147
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Cestlavie 06/18/09 - 09:22 am
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Ummm . . . WTT, teachers (190

Ummm . . . WTT, teachers (190 day employees)do earn vacation days. State law requires us to work 190 days, so we can't be furloughed. That just means our local supplement is reduced, which is essentially a pay cut. Year-round employees won't be able to use vacation days; they will have to take those days as leave w/o pay.

Son of God
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Son of God 06/20/09 - 04:01 pm
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I have been young but now I'm

I have been young but now I'm old. I have NEVER seen THE RIGHTEOUS FORSAKEN NOR HIS SEED BEGGING BREAD. May God bless the Richmond County Board of Education, its employees and all who commented on this section. It is all in God's plan. God is soverign. God sees and owns everything in the universe. My prayer is that God have mercy and grace on The Richmond County Board of Education and all who commented. The last time I read my bible, it did not tell me that God would not provide for me and take care of me. There may be times when there is no check or job from man. What then? God always has a backup plan. God loves to test and chastise us to true repentance daily. Only those in the spirit can comprehend. The flesh profiteth nothing. I have learned to be content in whatever state I'm in knowing that the fight and battle has already been won by God. When we speak into the atmosphere our desire through faith, believe that God has already done it, walk in obedience and live holy, then God has to move miracously on our behalf. Pray for the change you want, fast, believe God and there (in God time not yours) it's already done. God Bless everyone as we walk in PERFECT LOVE...aMEN

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