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BOE set to approve budget

The McDuffie County Board of Education is set to give the final vote on their FY 2010 budget during Thursday's regular meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

Because revenues from the state were cut drastically this year on top of austerity cuts the last several years, systems around the area have resorted to layoffs and going in the deficit. The McDuffie County BOE tentatively adopted their budget at the end of May for presentation to the public. And they stuck to their goals of no jobs cut, no millage rate increase and no fund balance decrease.

At $49,750,132, the budget is $3,088,551 less than last year's budget. Although no one lost their job, every department cut expenditures by at least five percent, all certified employees will receive a $750 reduction of their local supplement annual pay divided over a 12-month period, all central office administrators and non-certified, 12-month employees will take a three-day furlough and parapros under 190-day contracts will be reduced to 180-days.

Thirty-nine non-required and non-funded parapro positions will be eliminated, reclassified under a new name, and the same employees will be rehired for the new position, allowing their salaries to be paid with stimulus funds.

The board also is looking into ways to increase teachers' attendance and cut back on the use of substitutes. Comptroller Tom Smalley said substitute pay costs the system "hundreds of thousands of dollars each year." The pay scale for retired educators who substitute in the system was reduced to $125 per day.

When the option first came up in budget work sessions, Chairwoman Georgia Hobbs, who is a retired teacher herself, said that pay was too low and wasn't worth anyone's time. Mrs. Hobbs pointed out that when a teacher is gone for an extended leave, such as maternity leave, the students need a highly-qualified substitute in the classroom. However, cutting the rate back to $125 instead of the traditional sliding-scale, tenure-based pay, will save the system approximately $100,000, according to Mr. Smalley.

"But, it's got down to a point of desperation in the state, the entire nation and our system, and so we have to do radical things in order to not eliminate positions," he said.

Four retired educators attended the board planning session Tuesday morning and expressed their concerns during the public input segment that the payment was not an adequate amount. Chairwoman Hobbs told them the board would respond in writing to their complaint within two weeks.

Other items the board will vote on during Thursday's meeting are the 2009-10 Student Code of Conduct, making Thomson Middle and Thomson-McDuffie Junior High schools Title I schools, participation in the Consortium for Adequate Funding in Georgia, and how to deal with the cost increase of background/finger print checks for new employees by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Web posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009

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