The McDuffie County Board of Education called a special meeting last Thursday evening to work on the 2007 budget. Superintendent Mark Petersen said they are trying to compensate the "rising costs" being passed on to them from the state department of education without passing the burden on to local taxpayers or affecting teacher salaries. The state gives teachers two and half days of sick leave, but leaves the local system to pay for their substitutes.
Also, the employer portion of insurance premiums has increased 2 percent. A new law requires 65 percent of the operational budget be spent on classroom instruction. While components in the 65 percent include teacher salaries, it does not include counselors, specialists, and adequate art, music and PE instructors. Other areas under-funded by the state and creating challenges are text books and bus transportation within one and one-half miles of the school.
At Thursday's meeting, the board looked at areas in the budget that "had room to play with," such as maintenance and operations. Tom Smalley, comptroller, said the good news is McDuffie has "under spent" for the last few years, giving them room to make reductions. The budget will not be voted on until a later meeting.