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Public fails to speak at school budget hearing; Up to $14 million deficit expected next school year

CONYERS -- No member of the public spoke at last week's public hearing regarding the budget for the coming school year.

On Thursday, the Rockdale County Board of Education held its first public hearing for the purpose of soliciting community input regarding the development of the district's 2013-14 school year operating budget.

Members of the public were present, mainly for recognition during the board's monthly meeting that followed, but no one spoke during the 15-minute hearing that preceded the meeting.

School board members Katrina Young, Wales Barksdale, Jim McBrayer and Tony Dowdy were present during the hearing.

Chairman McBrayer asked the superintendent's staff to address the board and the public with an update on the budget process.

Lee Davis, chief financial officer for Rockdale County Public Schools, said he is keeping a close eye on the legislative session to determine what could affect the system.

Currently, he expects a $13.5- to $14-million deficit for the coming school year if the school board uses a full school year calendar, as school board members have approved, and due to an increase in insurance and retirement costs. If three furlough days are added, it could decrease the budget deficit by $1.5 million, he said.

Davis added that the system still hasn't received its midterm adjustment figures from the state, so once he sees those, he will be able to make better projections for next year. He also is awaiting more word about local taxes, which could bring about a $2 million reduction.

"It'll change," Davis said about projections. "The state Legislature will change things."

Once Davis has more definitive answers, he said an internal budget committee will meet, and then he will meet with the school board's financial committee, likely over the coming weeks. No cuts have been proposed.

Budget preparations are ongoing for the rest of the school year.

Until April, school and system administrators are preparing and reviewing budget proposals at schools and for central office departments, and the budget committee is preparing a system budget.

Staffing and salary schedules will be determined in April, according to the budget calendar.

Officials plan to present a proposed budget to the board on May 9, and the board is expected to adopt a tentative budget on May 16.

The next public meeting for budget discussions is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, in the board room at the RCPS central complex, which is located at 954 North Main St. in Olde Town Conyers.

The board is expected to approve a final budget on June 14 and a millage rate in July or August, usually depending on when final tax figures are available.

Comments

ConyersGal 1 year, 8 months ago

If there won't be a final budget until Jun 14, how can the board ask teachers to sign contracts in April without telling the teachers how much they will earn. And, if the teachers sign the contract anyway and later learn that salaries and benefits have been cut again, how can the contract be legally binding?

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1happyperson 1 year, 7 months ago

Here's an idea to help cut the budget...how about following up on students that live outside the county and are using our services. There are so many out of county tags in the car pool lines at both of my children's schools. I tried to count one morning, but there were so many I lost count. I called the school board and was told to "sit and write down all the tags numbers and give it to the board then they would investigate." I don't feel it is my job or any other taxpaying citizen of this county's job to write down tag numbers. The complaint should be followed up by someone in the county office.

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Clark 1 year, 7 months ago

Here's an idea: get rid of any sports team that isn't self-support either through booster clubs, or ticket sales, or doesn't present a true financial drain on financial resources. Force all outdoor sports to be played and practiced during daylight only so there's no cost for the lighting. Also, don't run school during the absolute HOTTEST part of the year and have to run the air conditioners at full blast all day long. Quit buying new curriculum ideas every year that just don't work. Quit buying a new grade program every year, then ignore three fourths of the features...which creates extra work for the teachers, who have to stay longer, burning school electricity dollars.

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