Dougherty County School Board Chairman James Bush, left, and Superintendent Joshua Murfree listen to presentations during a School Board meeting Monday night at the DCSS administrative building.
ALBANY — Dougherty County School Board Chairman James Bush announced that the Board will hold a called meeting at 5 p.m. today to discuss the school system’s FY2012-13 budget.
The announcement, made just prior to the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, paves the way for a public meeting of the full board to discuss options as the DCSS looks at a looming $9 million shortfall for the next fiscal year.
Superintendent Joshua Murfree will present some ideas for reducing that deficit to the board and then the seven Board members will have an opportunity to present their own ideas.
“I think we will be able to solve the $9 million problem,” Murfree said. “What I really want to do is talk about how we can get rid of at least three teacher furlough days for next year.”
Currently the school system’s teachers are facing 10 furlough days next year. Those days will reportedly save the DCSS at least $6 million.
Murfree said he also wants to talk about slashing the system’s $750,000 allotted for substitutes by “cross-training,” and having employees prepared to handle multiple jobs.
Other cost-saving and revenue-generating ideas up for discussion are possible school consolidations, and attracting part of the county’s estimated 335 home-schoolers into the DCSS via a virtual school.
“I hope we finally get to find out what our options are,” Board Member Carol Tharin said when asked what she hopes would come out in the special meeting. “We know we are going to have to make cuts that result in specific savings and we want specific proposals. I hope Dr. Murfree is ready to do that.
“We have some uncomfortable choices ahead of us.”
Fellow Board member Milton “June Bug” Griffin wants to take a look at the furlough days.
“I hope we don’t always have furloughs,” Griffin said. “And I want for us to get past these furloughs without laying anybody off.”
Board member David Maschke welcomes the opportunity to exchange ideas.
“I think having an open meeting of the full board is a good thing,” Maschke said. “It’s about time we got some dialog started between the Board and staff to share our concerns and see what options we have. It will help us make well informed decisions.”
Fellow board member Velvet Riggins agreed.
“Right now we don’t know how the taxpayers’ money is being allocated in the next budget,” Riggings said. “So is this a good thing? Ask me tomorrow night.”
The sole dissenting voice on the Board in regard to the open meeting was Anita Williams-Brown.
“I don’t know if we need to be putting anything out until we have all of the info on hand,” Williams-Brown said. “I still think we need to have one-on-one or two-on-two meetings with Mr. Lloyd (DCSS Director of Finance) first. We don’t want to be wasting people’s time.”
In other business, the board approved a four-part IT package that included a basic cabling and network support agreement, and IT asset management system, a contract to boost Internet bandwidth and and annual service support agreement for the system’s phone system.
Lloyd also informed the board that the DCSS’s Standard and Poors bond rating had been upgraded from “A-” to “A.”
The next regularly schedule Board meeting is set for 11:30 a.m. on March 21 at Morningside Elementary.