ALBANY -- With six months remaining in the FY2012 budget, the Dougherty County School System Finance Committee is looking at how best to cope with an anticipated $9 million shortfall in next year's budget.
Cuts, consolidation of schools and outsourcing of some services were items kicked around at the unusually lengthy Tuesday morning meeting.
"Everything is on the table," Superintendent Joshua Murfree said.
Not surprisingly, all three committee members had ideas on how to deal with the budget deficit.
"I think we need to take a hard look at teacher supplements, starting with coaches supplements," committee chair Anita Williams-Brown said. "We need to look at any signs of overpayment in the system."
"We're in a crunch and we need to look at every money-saving option possible," said committee member Carol Tharin.
"We have too many schools. We don't need anymore buildings. We have to consolidate some schools," said School Board Chairman James Bush.
Consolidation has always been a hot button topic in Dougherty County and a sure-fire generator of angry phone calls to BOE members.
Williams-Brown warned the committee that the mere hint of school consolidation would start a firestorm of controversy.
Considering the BOE has spent millions on renovations at Monroe, Westover and Albany high schools, and is just beginning work at Dougherty High, it would appear those schools may be safe. So any consolidation would likely occur within the system's six middle and 16 elementary schools.
"I think we'll have to take a look at school occupancy numbers," Murfree said. "If we have a school running at 25 to 30 percent of capacity then we have to ask ourselves if that school needs to remain where it is."
In action taken Tuesday, the committee voted to send before the full board a merchant services contract to provide the system with the ability to process credit and debit cards; a new accounting software system for the system; approval of surplus asset sales; warehouse restock bids for custodial and art, office and instructional supplies; and bids on network, software and wireless Internet service.