State budget worries Columbia County schools

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Columbia County school officials are nervous as the General Assembly prepares to reconvene this month.

Millions more dollars likely will be slashed in the state's budget by lawmakers this year, and county Superintendent Charles Nagle believes education funding will become a victim.

"Until (state) legislators meet in January and the economy picks up, we are at a standstill with any planning other than school as usual," Mr. Nagle wrote in an e-mail. "My immediate concern is building next year's budget."

During a meeting last month with state lawmakers, Mr. Nagle said any more state cuts will affect instruction. The system has already lost $13.8 million in state funding. Were it not for $5.7 million in federal stimulus funds, Mr. Nagle said, instruction already would be affected.

State Rep. Ben Harbin, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned Columbia County officials in November that legislators are looking to trim $350 million from the budget. Those estimates rose to $700 million last month. Gov. Sonny Perdue already has slashed the budget by about $900 million to counteract dwindling tax revenue. Though Mr. Harbin did not specifically say education funds, which make up about half of the state budget, would be cut, he did say there is no "sacred cow."

However, state Sen. Bill Jackson recently attempted to assure school officials that education cuts will be considered last.

Lawmakers also told school officials they have not discussed more teacher furloughs, but last month the school board changed the second-semester calendar to give teachers Monday off. The semester starts Tuesday, but teachers typically arrive a day early.

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

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or

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dstewartsr 01/03/10 - 09:25 am
Business as usual; responded

Business as usual; responded to by the county as more of the same. The state will continue to cut the budget of the functions they should be doing; education, police, roads, while growing the bureaucracy that consumes the major part of the tax dollar. And Nagle & Company will continue to shift the costs to teachers instead of high salaried office weenies. First rule of government 'cutting' spending: Slash muscle; spare the fat.

lenard 01/03/10 - 09:56 am
School systems have to back

School systems have to back to the days with useing the brain...No computers and use text books to learn....let the children learn computers while in school but not have to have one at home for assignments... Get back to the basics....

WW1949 01/03/10 - 01:11 pm
Cut out the free breakfast,

Cut out the free breakfast, lunches etc. Get back to good solid education. Parents whould be responsible for their childrens upbringing and not the schools. For parents who say they do not have the time to or money to prepare food, give up something you like such as cigs, beer, going out on Friday or Sat nights. Make your sacrifice. The children are yours.

troylus 01/03/10 - 05:42 pm
No..just have more tax free

No..just have more tax free holidays to fill the coffers of political gain.

Riverman1 01/03/10 - 08:20 pm
So taxes are good? We need to

So taxes are good? We need to go back to Economics 101 and explain slowly how taxes hurt businesses and workers who are the spenders. If we had a new country starting on an island, the best way to assure success would be to eliminate taxes for a few years.

disssman 01/03/10 - 09:09 pm
What people don;t realize is

What people don;t realize is the cuts are being made to the group of people responsible for maintaining the millions of dollars in infrastructure. And we wonder why a school or the RC jail or the court houses are in such bad shape and must be rebuilt every 20 years.

corgimom 01/03/10 - 09:39 pm
The free breakfasts and

The free breakfasts and lunches are paid for by the Feds, not the state or CC. And children that are not fed do not do well in school. I know. I was one of those kids, and I keep breakfast items in the classrooms for kids that aren't fed. It is sad to see a 5 year old crying because they are hungry and feel sick from low blood sugar.

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