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Local tax millage frozen despite ongoing education revenue cuts
McDuffie Ink

The McDuffie County Board of Education deserves a huge amount of credit for working so diligently to reduce expenditures to ensure local taxpayers did not have to suffer amidst the record setting reductions in state funding of public education. The State of Georgia reduced education funds sent directly to McDuffie County in the amount of $3,437,316 when comparing school year 2009-10 with the current year 2010-11.

Since 2003, the State of Georgia has reduced education funding for McDuffie County students by over $12 million or $ 3,025 for each and every student. Our local board sought ways to reduce expenditures while providing the same high quality of educational services to our community. Through attrition, approximately 57 positions have been reduced throughout the system, starting in the Central Office and including every department and school. To avoid laying off full time personnel, the system chose to terminate specified contracted services, and elected to distribute those responsibilities among existing employees. Substitute expenditures were reduced by having teachers and paraprofessionals cover many classes. Both system-level and school-level budgets were reduced by 20%. The instructional calendar was amended to reflect both a later starting date (which reduced the number of days air conditioning was needed) and 10 less instructional days, although the total number of minutes was left intact. The Board of Education also voted to consolidate some schools due to the large number of empty classrooms available in several of the facilities. All system employees received six less day's worth of pay than in typical years. Rather than some losing 10 days, some losing six and still others losing three, the board implemented a consistent and equitable work day reduction plan.

All in all, we successfully reduced expenditures by over $4 million and have a balanced FY11 budget without raising the local tax rate. The BOE and I realize that in today's struggling economy, more and more families are finding the need to cut back. It was critical that we not further burden the local citizens with a tax increase. We also realize that our teachers, administrators and our staff must do more with less. I am proud of what this school system has achieved for our community. Collectively, we have all made sacrifices and we have all taken on more responsibilities.

Reports indicate that the state revenue showed an increase of 4.7% for the month of July 2010 when compared to July 2009. While this is a positive indicator, I am also being told by those in Atlanta that school systems should be prepared to brace themselves for additional cuts in funding from the state level. Other area school superintendents are expecting to further reduce contracted days for their teachers. I do not see that as a need or an option at this point in time, primarily due to the other areas which we have already reduced our expenditures.

The McDuffie County Board of Education and I will remain committed to providing an excellent educational experience for all of our students. We are committed to the effort to not lay off any full time employees. We are committed to the formulation and implementation of a balanced budget. We are committed to maintaining the current millage rate. We are committed to graduating a high percentage of our students while preparing them to succeed in tomorrow's world. We remain committed to providing a safe, respectful environment where academic excellence and individual potential is achieved.

Web posted on Thursday, September 02, 2010

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