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School budget: To add teachers to pool, district will cut other jobs

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

More job cuts could be on the way for the Georgetown County School District, according to Lisa Johnson, the associate superintendent for finance.

Johnson presented the school board with a plan this week to use $160,000 saved by cutting district positions in the general fund budget to add $26,000 to its group health insurance policy and pay for two full-time positions in the district teacher pool, a $134,000 cost in salaries and benefits. The positions to be cut have not been named.

Until the district’s $68.3 million general fund budget goes before the public in a hearing June 15, Johnson doesn’t expect any other budget changes.

Compared to last year’s $72 million general fund budget, the 2010-11 budget is about $3.7 million less after the district cut jobs, cuts in contracted services, eliminated of tuition reimbursement and the teacher center to make up for the loss of state funding.

School board members also voted Tuesday to decrease salaries for teachers who retire and come back to teach full time. According to Marthena Grate Morant, the district’s executive director of human resources, no retirees have been hired for the 2010-11 school year, but the board decided to change district policy and cut future retirees’ salaries to save money.

“The retiree savings has not been calculated yet,” Johnson said. “There are not many retirees expected to return. As of this moment, the savings has not been planned for.”

The district has already cut programs and positions this year, Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

“We had science coaches in elementary schools. We also had elementary and middle school foreign language teachers, all of which have since gone by the wayside, along with the IB programs, after school programs, remediation and Saturday school,” Dozier said.

When funding was cut, those programs all ended.

The district also lost mental health services in schools and instructional assistance.

“We’re operating now on formula. We’re not operating on needs and closing the achievement gap,” he said. “It’s difficult to find those resources.”

And the 2012 fiscal year will be a greater challenge.

“Next year, when we lose the stimulus money, we’re going to have an increase in class size, lose teachers and furloughs,” Dozier said.

He projected the district will lose about $3.6 million in stimulus funding, and Johnson isn’t ruling out additional cuts to state funding sources in the upcoming fiscal year.

“There are kids in every area that have needs and need resources,” he said. “It’s difficult right now because we’re providing a minimal education at this point.”

It is minimal, he said, because the district is not operating based on the needs of the students. It can’t.

District takes corrective action | Georgetown County School Board members approved the districts 2010-11 corrective action plan, following No Child Left Behind guidelines, after the district did not meet its annual yearly progress standards this year.

The plan focuses on improving reading skills at a young age, conveying effective teaching strategies to teachers and starting ninth-grade academies if they aren’t already in place at district high schools.

Benchmark testing will help determine results.

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