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Governor's request to cut school system budget could cost McDuffie $500,000

Just two months after approving their budget for the next school year, the McDuffie County Board of Education may have to go back to the drawing board. Last Friday, Governor Sonny Perdue announced plans to withhold 6 percent of state funding for all agencies, 5 percent from Medicaid and 2 percent from K-12 school systems to avoid a special session of the General Assembly.

The governor's plan will defer $1.6 billion in total spending. According to McDuffie County Schools Comptroller Tom Smalley, almost $500,000 of that will be from McDuffie County Schools.

"That's the governor's proposal, and I don't know if it's final or not. But what I did was take the total allotment sheet of the amount that the state sends us in a year and multiply that by 2 percent. It could only pertain to certain components of the allotment, but I've heard nothing from the state right now," Mr. Smalley said.

Every spring, the BOE advertises their tentative budget in the legal organ for the county, then gives it their vote of approval at their June board meeting, based on what the state promises they will send.

"The tax digest in the county went up this year and for us, that was good, because we could pick up some additional revenue that way," Mr. Smalley said. "But now we're getting revenue taken away from the state, so it's putting us in a difficult position."

Mr. Smalley said it was too early to predict how the system will deal with the situation. The exact 2 percent of McDuffie School System's total allotment from the state is $484,944.12.

Other than that, Mr. Smalley said he did not wish to make a statement until he heard official details from the Georgia Department of Education.

"I am going to have to put this in the mix and see where we stand," he said. "Then, if it comes down to it, I'm going to have to do some real number crunching."

Any changes to the budget will have to be approved by the school board.

Morris News Service reports were used in this article.

Web posted on Thursday, August 07, 2008

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