Dougherty County Board of Education Chair James Bush, left, and DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree discuss upcoming budget cuts during the School Board’s monthly meeting Wednesday at Northside Elementary School.
ALBANY, Ga. — Wednesday's Dougherty County Board of Education meeting produced a mix bag for the system. The Board discussed painful budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, and saw 17 of its best and brightest students awarded Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Presidential Scholarships worth more than $1 million.
The four-year scholarships ranged from $116,000 to $12,000. The process began earlier this year when Superintendent Joshua Murfree approached FAMU.
"I wrote them and told them we had some worthy scholars down here," Murfree said. "When I started out, my goal was to provide post-secondary placement opportunities for Dougherty County's children.
"The scholarships are for children who don't have anything and are rewards for doing what they are supposed to do academically."
The scholarship money is weighted by SAT and ACT test scores and grade-point average.
Scholarship winners by school are:
Forrest Schultz, $116,608; Chelsea Fitzhugh and Jessica Burnett, $20,000 each; Andrew Tabatt, $16,000. Five Albany High juniors also earned scholarships: Katherine Godwin, Abigail Shepard and Shivam Patel, $103,000 each; Courtney Wallace, $16,000; and Indyia Simpson, $1,200.
Alesha Thomas, $103,000
Kason Jones and Chelsea Cox, $16,000 each; Elisabeth Banston and Alexander Landin, $12,000 each.
Ellen Roberts, Benjamin Clenny and Kwasi Wrensford, $116,000 each.
In regard to the pending FY 2012-13 budget, which is facing an estimated $9 million shortfall, board member Carol Tharin suggested cutting all DCSS travel expenses by 50 percent, closing or repurposing some schools, early retirement buyouts, letters of non-renewal sent to all teachers named in the CRCT cheating report and outsourcing of some school services.
"We've been asking for this information since last summer, and it's not been forthcoming," Tharin said. "We need to look at these options and find out how much we can save. Remember, they are just options. It's like preparing for a hurricane, but it doesn't necessarily mean we'll have to use them."
Tharin also suggested selling surplus school land and buildings.
Murfree responded by saying he had some specific options and would present them to the DCSS Finance Committee when it meets Tuesday.
The superintendent added that he had a three-year plan that would implement cost-cutting measures.
The next meeting of the full board is set for May 14 at 7 p.m. at the school administration building.