Dougherty County School Board Chair James Bush leans over to talk to Superintendent Joshua Murfree in this file photo.
ALBANY, Ga. — As Dougherty County School System officials wait to hear from Atlanta exactly how rough cuts to the FY 2013 budget will be, staff members say they’re making progress toward cutting their budget.
DCSS Finance Director Robert Lloyd briefed board members Wednesday and said that when the books were closed for the month of December, the system was $1.2 million under budget for the year.
On a month-by-month basis, the system came in more than $300,000 under budget for December.
If the system can keep that momentum, it could go a long way toward softening the anticipated $9 million shortfall DCSS is expecting to hit during the next fiscal year.
Maintaining a budget figure in the black will be tough, Lloyd said, pointing to rising fuel costs that are already trending higher than what was budgeted for the system.
Balancing the budget, a requirement of both the state and local governments, is a hot-button topic for the board, which is already furloughing teachers 10 days.
The predicted FY 2013 shortfall has some on the board talking about layoffs. Board Member Darrel Ealum said he was dissatisfied with how the board’s Finance Committee and DCSS staff were keeping the board informed as to the measures being considered to address the shortfall.
“At no time have I received any information on how we’re going to close this $9 million gap, how we’re going to avoid furloughing teachers or how we’re going to go about asking for more waivers for class sizes,” Ealum said.
When School Board Chairman James Bush told Ealum there were essentially two options — furlough teachers or lay them off — Ealum answered bluntly.
“I’d rather cut some positions and consolidate schools and pay the rest full pay rather than keep furloughing everybody,” Ealum said.
Ealum’s comments prompted a response from board member Anita Williams-Brown, the Finance Committee chair, who said she planned to give the staff an opportunity to see what directives would be coming from Atlanta and then formulate a plan, rather than dictate what they should do.
“I’m not going to micromanage the staff; I’m waiting for the superintendent to bring us a recommendation,” Williams-Brown said. “If you want to take me off that committee, that’s fine but I’m not going to micromanage.”
Ealum ended the discussion with a final comment.
“I’m not going to back off the fact that we need more information,” he said.