Richmond County schools face extra $6.5 million in cuts

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The Richmond County school board gambled and lost.

Last week, the board voted against raising taxes slightly more than $8 for a $100,000 house, sticking Superintendent Dana Bedden with a $1.1 million shortfall and gambling that state funding wouldn't continue to be slashed as tax revenues plummet.

On Tuesday the board came up snake eyes.

Gov. Sonny Perdue dealt the school system an estimated $6.5 million in cuts, part of a larger plan for offsetting a $900 million drop in state revenue.

The school system -- already facing the possibility of furloughs and layoffs -- must now dig even deeper to offset the lost revenue.

Raising taxes is no longer on the table.

Bert Brantley, Mr. Perdue's spokesman, said 3 percent will be cut from the state education funding formula and school systems will be cut the equivalent of three furlough days for all state-funded positions.

Mr. Brantley said the governor doesn't have the legal authority to mandate educator furloughs, but school boards are having their funding reduced the equivalent of those furlough days.

Higher education was cut 5 percent, as were most other state budgets, Mr. Brantley said. All of the cuts bring Georgia's budget back to 2005 levels, although the state's population has grown by 1 million people since then.

When Dr. Bedden was asked how he would absorb the cuts, he shrugged his shoulders.

Faced with only a $1 million shortfall last week, the superintendent said he would rely on a "combination of things to spread the pain," including layoffs, furloughs and charging fees for services.

School board President Marion Barnes said that, in his combined 48 years as an educator and board member, these are the worst financial times he has experienced.

"We're going to have to go back to the drawing board," Mr. Barnes said. "Hopefully, we won't have to eliminate any employees."

One school position, however, is safe. The board unanimously approved spending $120,000 to extend its contract with Voss & Associates, the public relations firm that provides a public information officer to the school system.

Shortly after Dr. Bedden updated the board on the latest budget shortfall, the board approved extending the contract.

"I've always looked at an information person as a necessity," Mr. Barnes said. "I'm hoping they can help us sell what we're doing."

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

Comments (42) Add comment
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The Ode
2
Points
The Ode 07/22/09 - 02:07 am
0
0
Why don't they just divide

Why don't they just divide the shortfall by the number of students and divide the costs equally among the parents of those children putting the burden on the school system? Why don't they cut out free meals? Why don't they cut out free bus rides? Why don't they cut out free athletics? Why don't they cut out free after school babaysitting? Why don't they make parents responsibile for raising their children which includes paying for them?

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 07/22/09 - 02:09 am
0
0
Sonny needs to go back to

Sonny needs to go back to Bonaire before he bankrupts The State of Georgia much as he's done to his own business while operating it during his two terms.

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 07/22/09 - 04:18 am
0
0
Checkit if you look at the

Checkit if you look at the budget you will find that stimulus money was used where it was allowed to keep positions.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 07/22/09 - 04:36 am
0
0
Another hit piece. The
Unpublished

Another hit piece. The all-white media is second-guessing the decisions of the superintendent by inferrence, i.e. the public relation contract, which "they" probably wanted another firm to get the contract. The article should be titled: RCBOE Spends 120k On Media Firm When Budgets Are Red! It will probably be forthcoming as financial decisions are printed. Nothing about the governor and his reckless leadership, reckless republican-lead lawmakers, and their failure to control spending. Hiring that media company is money well-spent because with this bunch, they just don't get it.

Whatthetruth
0
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Whatthetruth 07/22/09 - 05:29 am
0
0
So lose the opening

So lose the opening motivational speaker and renting of the Brown arena, for the county... if it was paid for through donations...( ha ha I doubt it was) take those donations and put them towards this budget crisis. What is going to happen when a child gets hurt because of the understaffed classrooms and schools? STOP the OUTSOURCING!! and why on earth does the school system needs a public relations firm at $120,000.00? Can't the members of the staff at RCBOE speak on behalf of the system? Guess teachers and other staff members will be beating down the bankruptcy doors, since they will now be furloughed for additional days... Let me ask... will the staff ever get contracts this year? or contracts just a formality with no meaning and meant to be ignored. Something has got to give, a system that does not invest in their people is a poorly run system and a school system that does not put children first, is not a school system at all. Is this legal? Since contracts were due to be return to teachers in June, and they were not, what does this mean, as it relates to the law?

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 07/22/09 - 06:14 am
0
0
Ode, you obviously have no

Ode, you obviously have no children in public schools...possibly, you have no children at all. We are already paying for the schools and my property tax bill went up this year, despite the decline in housing values. Some of the "luxuries" you mention are state and/or federal mandated and eliminating them would affect the poorest children who are the most vulnerable. I agree that fees could be imposed on some activities (incl. athletics, which absorbs a disproportionate amount of funding, given its lack of academic import). And our family would be willing to make an additional donation if it meant saving a teacher's job, but not everyone can do that. The place to look is in administration, where there are too many middle managers. Teachers are on the front lines and their jobs should be preserved at all costs.

say what
0
Points
say what 07/22/09 - 06:38 am
0
0
justus, why does a school

justus, why does a school system with mandatory attendance need a PR firm at all?

avidreader
2967
Points
avidreader 07/22/09 - 06:54 am
0
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whatthetruth: "The upcoming

whatthetruth: "The upcoming convocation is being paid for by the private, business sector in the CSRA." Dr. Bedden addressed a group of approximately 400 educators Monday morning and looked us all in the eyes when he relayed this message. I believe him. Those of you are not directly involved in the day-to-day events of the educational process have very little knowledge of the agony that Dr. Bedden is going through. He may seem a bit aloof at times (toward the public), but he is working diligently to save our school system. All great leaders are a bit cocky and ego-driven, but so what. This man accepted his position a mere year and a half ago and walked into a hornet's nest. I personally have some criticisms of the man, but overall, I think he's doing a pretty good job with the hand he's been dealt. And by the way, I am a middle-aged white guy who is busting his azz to educate your kids. I have faith in Bedden, so why can't you?

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 07/22/09 - 06:55 am
0
0
Yes, justus4 I have to agree.

Yes, justus4 I have to agree. They went out their way to talk about $120,000 out of a couple hundred million dollar budget. Just make the article about the PR instead of trying to sugar coat it.

Ga Values
27
Points
Ga Values 07/22/09 - 06:59 am
0
0
When are we going to have

When are we going to have SERIOUS CUTS in the CENTRAL OFFICE?

One who cares
0
Points
One who cares 07/22/09 - 07:19 am
0
0
You know beng involved in the

You know beng involved in the RCSS(why did the LOGO have to be changed?) More expense, excuse let me get back on track. There are still posistions in the Central Office and all these new Positions(i.e.-Instructional Cocaches) created. If the students would go to class and teachers do there job-you do not need these coaches, that would be a big cut in itself. Let the teachers do what they went to College for and most are still going to some type of class to keep up with there certifications. I understand we are in a depression, but let's not cut the peions at the lower paid employees-you cannot get along without us to put up with all the SMACK we get from teachers, counselors and parents.
I could say a lot more, but really who will be listening, not Dr. Bedden and certainly not Gov. Perdue.
As far as the PR-give me a break, let the Executive Directors put out the infomoration the public needs to hear or one of the Assistance to the Assistance-give them some real work. Also, all these meeting at the Hotel, I thought we had Conference Rooms in the Central Office for this-another expenditure. Should I go on-------Cut these paychecks that are hundred thousands of dollars.

dashiel
176
Points
dashiel 07/22/09 - 07:26 am
0
0
Absurd. Paying a PR firm

Absurd. Paying a PR firm when teacher layoffs loom. Why not sub out a caterer too? Party on morons.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 07/22/09 - 08:08 am
0
0
why not suspend all sports

why not suspend all sports programs for 1-2 years?????, if you notice that is the only sector of the school budget not even mentioned regarding cutbacks, just goes to show where the priorities of the school board are. layoff/furlough teachers but save the sacred cow called "football". the results manifests itself based on the ayp/crct scores

tchnga
0
Points
tchnga 07/22/09 - 08:12 am
0
0
jisomjr-the athletics run

jisomjr-the athletics run from mostly their own money. The football program and basketball programs bring in the money necessary to fund the other sports. I would really like to see what businesses donated for the convocation. Also, why are they furloughing the day before school starts when high school teachers have to be there until 8pm for freshman open house?!? That's the day before school starts! In what world does that make any sense?

Tots
25738
Points
Tots 07/22/09 - 08:18 am
0
0
What did that new tractor

What did that new tractor cost?

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 07/22/09 - 08:31 am
0
0
the welfare state continues

the welfare state continues to implode................

noway
201
Points
noway 07/22/09 - 08:49 am
0
0
The people at the school

The people at the school board won't even answer their phones, that's why they need a PR firm.

Cestlavie
134
Points
Cestlavie 07/22/09 - 09:11 am
0
0
If you look at the school

If you look at the school budget that was passed this summer, the biggest expenditure is for salaries. The reason that we have instructional coaches, graduation coaches, etc., is because of No Child Left Behind. Until the Obama administration changes the structure of this program, we have to have those positions to achieve the goals of AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). Redneck, teachers do their jobs, in spite of who parents send us. Many parents don't take the time with their children that they used to, and rely on the schools to do part of their parental responsibilities. Plus the average teacher spends about $500 - $1000 out of his/her pocket to get supplies for their classrooms. What other job requires you to spend your own money for supplies you need to do your job? Athletic programs bring in money for schools and booster clubs take up any slack. Please people--much of the situation we are facing is due to the 20 years of mismanagement of the Charles Larke administration. Forgot about all those multimillion dollar lawsuits didn't you? Or the fact that he hired a bunch of cronies who did absolutely nothing. Times are hard, but think about what Dr. Bedden has to deal with.

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 07/22/09 - 09:17 am
0
0
Has anyone ever called the

Has anyone ever called the main office? The lady that answers and tranfers you to whomever has been there for YEARS! I knows she is very nice but her pay is outragous!

Cestlavie
134
Points
Cestlavie 07/22/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
Gov. Purdue says tax

Gov. Purdue says tax collections are down. Well, I think that he needs to go after those businesses that are in arrears in sales tax collection. Unless he whittled down that list from year, millions of dollars are uncollected. Plus, before he cuts the budget, let's start at the top with GADOE (Georgia Dept. of Education). Now there is where the big money is. Class sizes are maxed out; positions have been eliminated, the millage rate is at the cap, we have grant writers who are working to get grants to fill in the gaps, most of the schools are Title I (which means additional federal funding) -- I don't know what else can be cut. Dr. Bedden and the board have some very tough decisions to make in the next few days. I don't envy them at all.

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 07/22/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
Get rid of some of the people

Get rid of some of the people who are homesteading!

anotherday
46
Points
anotherday 07/22/09 - 09:20 am
0
0
PR guy comes to mind and some

PR guy comes to mind and some of the people in the psychology services offices who make up their own rules as they go along. The answers are right under their own noses but no one wants to disrupt the status quo.

guess who
0
Points
guess who 07/22/09 - 09:25 am
0
0
re vote an tax will be raise

re vote an tax will be raise .

corgimom
27929
Points
corgimom 07/22/09 - 09:32 am
0
0
Justus, what does the school

Justus, what does the school board PR officer have to do with "the governor and his reckless leadership, reckless republican-lead lawmakers, and their failure to control spending"? Why would anyone discuss that in a story about the local school system? You are the one that just doesn't "get it".

mystery30815
18
Points
mystery30815 07/22/09 - 10:08 am
0
0
Teachers don't get furlough

Teachers don't get furlough days. Just receive a pay cut equivelant to 4 days of pay. So, still required to be at work, for less pay. Yes, greatful there is still a job to be had, but more days? C'mon. Teachers have bills to pay also. Graduation coach position has already been cut. Now it's time to cut the instructional coaches. Why not do what a lot of school systems do, charge the atheletes $100 at the beginning of the year to cover sports cost. Most teachers would probably rather move to a 4 days work week Teach Tues-Friday. That would cut down the budget greatly.

jack
10
Points
jack 07/22/09 - 10:27 am
0
0
Sonny needs to go back to

Sonny needs to go back to Bonaire before he bankrupts The State of Georgia much as he's done to his own business while operating it during his two terms.
Posted by Craig Spinks on Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:09 AM....How is Sonny bankrupting the state when it is the loss of revenue being suffered by all states and the feds? Sonny is required by the State constitution to balance the budget-that means when you ain't got the income, somthing has to be cut. I agree that after scholl babysitting should stop and athletics should pay for itself. However, I do NOT believe kids should not get a free meal if their parents can't afford them-but their ability to pay should be closely scrutinized (pay stubbs, etc).

Whatthetruth
0
Points
Whatthetruth 07/22/09 - 10:30 am
0
0
Acidreader, you are obviously

Acidreader, you are obviously a proponent of the Bedden regime... thats great! One of those special people with the inside track... the plant to keep these posting in a positive tone to accept whatever is dished out by the PR reps. I am not buy it for one moment. NO teacher that I have spoken to feels good about attending this "motivational" crap... But since you are so informed, how about speaking to the still bleeding of the OUTSOURCING of RCBOE!... or the jobs being created at central office and the salaries that are being offered. As for Charles Larke, the issues that are currently going on is not the legacy of Larke, this is the legacy of the new regime... Bedden... The cruel way teachers and other employees have been treated at the hands of the new administration is not something that Larke has anything to do with... This is a product of a failed economy and ruthless members of Bedden and his cabinet! with the board of education in tow. The supplement that coaches, academic, graduation and athletic is money that is not well spent... the opening ceremony is a waist of tax payers money, as all staff will not be working but sitting in a arena listening to meaningless crap.

jack
10
Points
jack 07/22/09 - 10:31 am
0
0
$120,000 PR firm when you're

$120,000 PR firm when you're n the red? With a Doctorate degree, I am sure Dr Bedden can speak eloquently for the RCSS.

Serioun
3
Points
Serioun 07/22/09 - 10:39 am
0
0
Ridiculous. Welcome to the

Ridiculous. Welcome to the state of the Repub. thugs and the Veterinarian Governor. We are already #40 (at the bottom) for Education, so what is he trying to make us #49. Glad my children are grown, but I still feel for the students. They are really being "Let Behind".

conservative
0
Points
conservative 07/22/09 - 11:24 am
0
0
I agree that the opening

I agree that the opening convocation is wasted time and money. Teachers DO hate it! Here are some additional suggestions for our school board. Only transport students who live more that one and one half miles from their assigned schools. This is the state requirement. Eliminate the PR firm serivces. Require parents to pay a supply fee as was done years ago to cover workbooks and other supplies. Eliminate testing that is not required by the state. Stop offering contract to ANY employee who has over thirty years of service and is eligible for full retirement benefits. Seriously consider a four day week to save on transportation and utility costs.

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