Schools plan options to absorb budget cuts

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It's a guessing game at this point, but area school officials say they're bracing for what could be more large funding cuts after legislators reconvene in January.

"We're the biggest receiver of (state) money, and it looks like we're going to take the biggest hit," said Richmond County school board member Jack Padgett, referring to statewide education funding.

Mr. Padgett, who serves as the board's legislative liaison, said projections have shown that Richmond County could face $5 million to $7 million more in cuts, but nothing will be known for sure until after the session starts.

Richmond County school board members recently asked school system controller Gene Spires to work up a "best case" scenario and two "worst case" scenarios on the impact of cuts.

Those results, presented in a Dec. 8 meeting, include scenarios in which operations stay as they are to others requiring more operational cost savings or even furloughs, although Mr. Spires said nothing is definite. The best-case showed how the system could maintain its status quo if funding stays as is.

The two worst-case scenarios detail what could happen if cuts range from $2.4 million to $5 million. The $2.4 million cut could occur if state revenue projections fall short by $350 million. The $5 million cut could result from a $450 million shortfall.

In the $2.4 million scenario, Mr. Spires' report presents a few options, including one that involves savings achieved by delaying a state plan that would have cost the school system about $2 million in added health insurance costs. The plan has been delayed until fiscal year 2011, so the $2 million in savings could be used in 2010 to offset the state cut.

The other option would be to hold the $2 million to meet cuts in the future. In that case, Mr. Spires said, one or two furlough days could be considered in addition to energy-saving efforts, and other cost-cutting measures.

In the $5 million scenario, Mr. Spires said, the $2 million in health insurance cost savings could be used, but additional expense reductions or a few furlough days might also be considered.

Already this year, Richmond County teachers' pay has been cut the equivalent of five furlough days.

Mr. Spires said he doesn't see a need for layoffs in fiscal year 2010.

IN COLUMBIA COUNTY, schools Superintendent Charles Nagle told state lawmakers this month that any more state cuts will directly affect instruction. Already, the system has lost $13.8 million in state funding. The system was able to maintain a high instruction level thanks to $5.7 million in federal stimulus funds, Mr. Nagle said.

Lawmakers didn't promise that more education cuts won't come, but they did say during a Dec. 8 meeting that such cuts would be considered last.

During a November meeting with area business leaders, state Rep. Ben Harbin, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said legislators are looking to trim another $350 million from the budget. Earlier this month, state officials said those estimates have risen to $700 million.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has already slashed the budget by about $900 million. Though lawmakers told school officials they have not discussed more teacher furloughs, Columbia County officials recently changed the second-semester calendar to give teachers Jan. 4 off. The semester starts Jan. 5, but teachers typically arrive a day early to prepare for students' return.

Should Mr. Perdue require more furloughs, Mr. Nagle said, he intends to use Jan. 4 to cover at least one of those days.

IN AIKEN COUNTY, Comptroller Tray Traxler said the district has the option of putting $4.8 million from last year's budget toward contingency, which should help it survive Monday's 5 percent cuts from the state Budget and Control board. The district furloughed teachers five days earlier this year, which saved $2.4 million and got it through the first set of cuts this school year.

Faced with a $12 million deficit last year, and anticipating a similar budget for 2010-11, Aiken County decided not to use federal stimulus money.

"We set money aside in contingency because we thought there would be some cuts," Mr. Traxler said. "Looking back on it, we were right in our planning."

Mr. Traxler will begin preparing budget information in January.

Reach Preston Sparks, Donnie Fetter or Julia Sellers at (706) 724-0851.

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One who cares
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One who cares 12/21/09 - 06:47 am
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I can tell you one way

I can tell you one way Richmond County could save a lot of money--DO NOT GIVE BEDDEN A $10,000 BONUS. If my check gets any smaller, I will be forced to give up all of my insurance plans, and knowing that I have a couple of medical problems, it would make life a lot harder than it is now. I am a support staff so therefore my pay along with others in the same positions do not make a lot to begin with. Bedden and all the other top dogs down on Broad St., could cut the budget if we did not have all these Exec. Directors and Secretaries for each and a Clerk for the secretaries. These Dir already make somewhere in the neighborhood of $80k-100k and retired or they have enough years to retire and just keep being GREEDY. What-ever Happened to the Supt. running the schools with just one Asst. I know I sound ANGRY and I am, Give me back my money and now we may have to take more Furlough days--not right for the people out in the schools who try very hard to keep the students there and these people are worked to death, overtime with the bus shortage and how in the world do you ever get your time back..Bookkeepers are the only one I see that might get time back,because they keep the books.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/21/09 - 08:55 am
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They need to go to a four-day

They need to go to a four-day week (no classes on Mondays). They would immediately save millions in transportation costs.

USA4Life
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USA4Life 12/21/09 - 09:20 am
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Why not trim the fat from the

Why not trim the fat from the social programs like Peach care? Also, if they would require students living with a 1/2 or mile radius of the school to walk ro ride with parents this would save money on bus fuel. Thirdly, they could cut out some of the sports programs to save money. Please, dont expect teachers to do more with less money.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/21/09 - 09:51 am
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hey ms. cain, here's an

hey ms. cain, here's an idea...HOW ABOUT SUSPENDINIG ALL EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES FOR 2-3 YEARS???....one-day, by your writing it is my opinion you are a teacher/educator, if so you have my sympathies...it is you who are on the front line, with no support either financially, emotionally or at least to stand behind you to give you the support you need to regain and keep control of your class....you are left out to dry by the adminstration and by ms. cain and the rest of the board, you are sent into the classrooms with insufficient supplies/textbooks with the expectation to perform miracles and if you are not successful ms. cain and the rest of the inept, selfish and self-centered board then throw you to the wolves. when money is tight, they will layoff your parapros, bus drivers, or your fellow teachers but at the same time "magically" find millions of dollars to build football stadiums/b-ball gymnasiums for schools that can't even meet ayp, have low graduation rates/test scores...i admire and commend you on your desire to make a difference and it is a shame that you have to work under the conditions that you do.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/21/09 - 09:51 am
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I wouild also get rid of the

I wouild also get rid of the breakfast at school programs and the after school programs. They cost a LOT of money.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/21/09 - 10:27 am
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Just a points... - Bedden

Just a points...
- Bedden gets paid far less than other superintendents of similar school systems even with the incentive pay. Perhaps we should just give him that extra pay regardless of performance, like his predecessor? Rediculous.
- If teachers get furoughed, he gets furloughed too.
- The RCBOE central office staff is much smaller than comparable systems. Don't believe me? Check the GDOE Web site.
- Football stadiums MUST be built because voters approved the SPLOST. The SPLOST cannot by law be used to fund operations.
- Breakfast and lunch programs are federally funded and are not affected by state cuts.
I'm not a cheerleader of the school system, but I am a cheerleader of the facts. But, then again, don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion.

JustMe
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JustMe 12/21/09 - 10:31 am
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i absolutely agree with

i absolutely agree with Little Lamb. Let the parents feed the kids at home and make sandwiches for school. Isn't that what food stamps are for? I am so tired of hearing about Dr. Bedden's bonus. I am currently out of work but if I had gotten the education and degrees I would surely expect to be in the same position as Dr. Bedden. Gee, he shouldn't have to give up his bonus to feed other peoples kids. I alays walked to school and it was in the north where it is cold and snowy. The kids could use the exercise.

LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 12/21/09 - 10:37 am
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we are already teaching more

we are already teaching more with less... I can't afford to teach and live in the county anymore... any more cuts and I am going to have to cut a lot of things like health care and all of the other insurances...

cleanup
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cleanup 12/21/09 - 11:20 am
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AnotherPerspective, bull.

AnotherPerspective, bull. Bedden has been lying since he got here about central office. It's still bloated, full of overpaid educrats whose jobs are unnecessary.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/21/09 - 11:27 am
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Cleanup, if you're going to

Cleanup, if you're going to argue, please use facts. Are you saying that Bedden (who isn't even from Georgia) has someone convinced the Georgia Department of Education to cook its books to make Richmond County look good? Fact: According to the GDOE, Richmond County has a much smaller central office than its peers. Fact - According to Metro RESA, many Richmond County positions are paid much less than their peers.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/21/09 - 12:02 pm
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I think I read here that Dana

I think I read here that Dana Bedden is the second highest paid superintendent in Georgia. And though Richmond County school system is big, it certainly is not the second largest school system in the state. It's quite far down the list because of the large school systems in metro Atlanta.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/21/09 - 12:02 pm
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I think I read here that Dana

I think I read here that Dana Bedden is the second highest paid superintendent in Georgia. And though Richmond County school system is big, it certainly is not the second largest school system in the state. It's quite far down the list because of the large school systems in metro Atlanta.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/21/09 - 12:04 pm
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Little Lamb, that's probably

Little Lamb, that's probably true. They had to raise the salary to find candidates. RC had such a poor reputation, they had to pay extra money to get someone willing to do it.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/21/09 - 12:07 pm
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Sorry about the double post

Sorry about the double post above. I tried to edit it or delete it, but couldn't. I was going to say that closing the schools (and central office) on Mondays would not only save transportation costs, but would also save on utility costs, especally if they properly managed the heating and air conditioning over the three day weekends.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/21/09 - 12:29 pm
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I heard that Elvis is a

I heard that Elvis is a greeter at Wal-Mart, but that is neither here nor there. The enemy of online commenters is fact. Online commenters prefer rumor and speculation. A quick review of the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts shows that Bedden is the sixth highest paid. I could have miscounted, but he is NOT the second highest. Again, I apologize for injecting fact (and where to verify the fact) into our wonderful world of baseless opinion. Please pardon the interruption.

Kapa18
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Kapa18 12/21/09 - 01:27 pm
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These post are ignorant...no

These post are ignorant...no price is to high to educate our children. Look at other nations who excel in education and are getting the high paying jobs (China, India, Korea)...they live in poverty but are dedicated to education. There should be a law, that no state can have less that 60% of its revenue go to education. Can't understand this...think of it this way....better educated, better suited for high demand and highly skilled jobs...better wages, more taxes, more spending...You can't expect 12 burger king workers to make up the taxes and buying power that would exist to if 4 of them were scientists, doctors or lawyers. I don't care how much a teacher makes or Dr. Bedden makes, I want results...I want our children to have the best education in the world...and to have health care that keeps them in the classroom. Stop being so sorry and attacking the educators, and attack a system that cares more about the T-Center than the education of it's youth.

cleanup
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cleanup 12/21/09 - 01:32 pm
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Fact: RCSS is full of

Fact: RCSS is full of corruption and waste. And, yes, I could name names, many names. Consultants and double dippers doing nothing and getting paid big bucks. Curriculum heads wasting millions of dollars and it getting swept under the rug. Disinformation, misinformation, and plain lies coming from Bedden to employees and the public. Nepotism more rampant now than under Larke even. AP, you know not of what you speak.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 12/21/09 - 02:29 pm
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I cited specific facts and

I cited specific facts and where those facts came from. The fact you can't do the same speaks volumes. Thank you for proving my point.

Just Another Day
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Just Another Day 12/21/09 - 02:34 pm
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Just Nuts says:"this is

Just Nuts says:"this is another attempt by the AWM to portray you know who in a bad light . The non minority media focuses on sensational journalism and waste their time on insignificant stories. When are they going to finish investigating President Andrew Jackson for supposedly sleeping with the help instead of focusing on wasting taxpayer's money? this kinda of article only benefits you know who and the Seattle Supersonics. Great Country eh?"

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 12/21/09 - 04:46 pm
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ok.. facts!! WE went from a

ok.. facts!! WE went from a 5 person QLT to a 9 panel superintendent cabinet at larger salaries. Was that cost effective.... We got rid of the fridges and other small appliances and added the salaries of 2 specialist to walk around and check for such appliances... Cost effective.. NOT... We got rid of the Director of transportation and moved him to another department at the same salary and then increased the acting transportation directors salary... cost effective ... NOT.. Created a new department in HR with the director of public safety and then hired two new position as huge salaries to replace the moved director... cost effective ... NOT... RCSS continues to step on those who work the hardest and are on the front lines every day... at the expense of the students, staff and teachers... let's not forget changing the names of graduation coaches to full the community and continue to hire more... then there is the money for the Literacy coaches and coordinator that makes absolutely no improvement ot the school and in most instances do the principal's job...

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 12/21/09 - 04:53 pm
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Bedden has his own agenda and

Bedden has his own agenda and his own personal board members in his back pocket and they look no further than what he is tells them. I would like to see a true listing of all the names at Central office... not the "doctored one that is given to the media" ... I don't think that Teachers, TA, bus drivers and other staff members can take much more and continue to do this job... as it stands now some people can do to retail and make more in retailed management than they are currently making now.. with all of the supplies that they have to buy out of their own pocket and the extra time they are being required to do, with no regards or value for the time worked... I do think it is time for a strike... strike for teachers, bus drivers, custodial staff, TA, guidance counselors and bookkeepers... All of whom are working way below the state and national average of salaries. I am simply sick of RCSS and the board that does not care about it employees but care more about power and politics.... Yes the economy is bad, but mismanagement of funds ... is worst... I call for a complete audit of spending ... and out sourcing is RCBOE... Especially with all the money spent on data director,

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 12/21/09 - 04:56 pm
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useless books that are not

useless books that are not aligned to the curriculum, the grant writing company, voyager, and the other useless programs that are not be utilized. Why are there so many directors, coordinators and supervisors in this county? If times are this bad, then streamline at the top down... not the bottom up!!... GET rid of the executive directors... and so on...

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 12/21/09 - 05:05 pm
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AnotherPerspective; Your

AnotherPerspective; Your facts are skewed!! and reports that are submitted to GDOE are completed and submitted by RCBOE...

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 12/21/09 - 05:08 pm
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Amen.... KAPA18

Amen.... KAPA18

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 12/21/09 - 05:58 pm
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kapa, i agree that money

kapa, i agree that money shouldn't be an object regarding educating ourt children...but when you have all of the traditional high schools failing to meet ayp, low graduation rates and test scores, the lack of sufficient school supplies and textbooks, consistant budget deficits but always finding money to build football stadiums/b-ball gymnasiums...what you have are missplaced priorites..because it's the poor homeowner who's shelling out the money but not getting an acceptable rate of return on their investment in education....at this point regarding richmond county's academic performance, it's not about education it's about money and how much the inept, short-sighted and selfish school borad members can get to waste of useless, ineffective and wasteful programs...BTW kapa, are you aware that richmond county his the 6th highest dropout percentage rate of black males in the ENTIRE COUNTRY...higher than that of the entire school district of DETROIT MICHIGAN...just a little something for you to ponder...

ConsiderThis
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ConsiderThis 12/21/09 - 08:13 pm
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It appears that misery wants

It appears that misery wants company. Most stuff on these blogs is only about bashing someone else or their position. Some facts: when you look at the old org chart compared to the new org chart that was on the website the new cabinet only has six positions with one vacant - CFO, the HR Dept picked up an old office (internal affairs) that only got a new name (Prof. Standards versus internal affairs and has the same two investigator positions), graduation coaches are paid by federal funds, many of the literacy coaches are paid by Reading First Grant, another federal program, etc. Do we even care about solutions rather than attacking someone else or their job? Etc.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 12/21/09 - 08:27 pm
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Regardless of where the money

Regardless of where the money is coming from STATE or FEDERAL the bottom line is the same - it is TAX PAYERS money. Literacy coaches, Intervention specialist (formally graduation coaches), math coaches, and the like just basically sit on their butts all day in offices and if they are not doing that then they are out driving around from school to school. In an 8 hour day they may do the equalivent of 4 hours real work. The ones who in the classrooms with students 90% of their work day are the real ones making a difference. We need to eliminate all this wasteful spending both federal and state.

ConsiderThis
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ConsiderThis 12/21/09 - 08:29 pm
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Please quote the research

Please quote the research correctly, it was the 2008 Schott report with 2005-2006 data and RCSS was one of the Ten Lowest "Large Districts" for Black Males, not the entire country. The 2008 Schott report documents that states and most districts with large Black enrollments educate their White, non-Hispanic children, but do not similarly educate the majority of their Black male students. Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina, and Wisconsin graduated fewer Black males with their peer group than the national average. So if the state is not doing well, a school district that is 70% black has a challenge to over come. The report also talks about the lack of resources provided to minority school districts. The lack of graduation for black males is still unacceptable. However, can we please avoid the misuse the data to make inaccurate points.

clyde1
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clyde1 12/21/09 - 09:32 pm
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If we go to a four-day week,

If we go to a four-day week, the bus drivers will only be working four days a week. What would happen to them? If they quit for another job, I don't see too many people trying to get hired for their position.

corgimom
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corgimom 12/21/09 - 09:57 pm
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Clyde, the people that want

Clyde, the people that want that, aren't thinking it through. A bus driver can only work a certain amount of hours in a day. That's a law. So how these drivers are going to do their job if the hours are extended is beyond me. It's hard enough to get people to drive buses as it is. Do you really want drivers that have to get up early and work late? Does anyone really want to put any child on a bus where the driver doesn't get adequate rest?

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