From left, Dougherty County School Board member Darrel Ealum and Superintendent Joshua Murfree talk after a called meeting of the BOE Tuesday. The 90-minute open public meeting was called to discuss the upcoming FY 2012-13 budget.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County School Board held a special called meeting Tuesday to discuss the upcoming FY2012-13 budget, and discussions included possible cuts in the athletic programs, school closings and teacher supplements.
See Dougherty County Salaries here
With the school board concerned about salaries, check out this link to see the salaries of DCSS personnel.
"Every year it seems that educational programs bear the burden of most of the cuts," BOE chairman James Bush said to kick off the 90-minute meeting. "I think we need to speak of possible cuts in our athletics programs, capacity and occupancy of our schools to see if any need to be closed and then we need to take a close look at the supplements we are paying our teachers, coaches and administrators."
The system is estimating a $9 million shortfall in next fiscal year's budget and Bush called for the open meeting to get the Board's input on how to best address that deficit. The state mandates that the DCSS must turn in a balanced budget by June 30.
DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree quickly addressed teacher furloughs and the possibility of consolidating some system's 26 schools, which educate nearly 16,000 students.
"We have a consulting firm that specializes in this area set to deliver recommendations to us on April 9," Murfree said. "Their report will deal with possible consolidation, rezoning and repurposing some of our schools to save us some dollar bills.
"So far we are $1.4 million (under budget) and we are anticipating getting another $1.3 in equalization money for $2.7 heading into the next budget. I'd love for us to be able to lose three furlough days next year."
The FY2011-12 budget includes 10 teacher furlough days which saved the system approximately $6 million.
DCSS Director of Finance and Operations Robert Lloyd addressed athletics, said "there have been no cuts in athletics and that is an area we are going to look into."
That sparked an emotional response from Board Member Milton "June Bug" Griffin.
"I am totally against even involving athletics in these discussions," Griffin said. "If anything those guys (coaches) need more money. They are like fathers to many of those kids."
Board member David Maschke asked Lloyd for a list of DCSS employees being "being compensated beyond the level set forth in the state teacher salary guide, and for a list of people who are currently being paid above what their positions warrant."
"It's past time for us to take a serious look at our payroll, because that's 90 percent of our budget," Maschke said. "Our classrooms need to be the last place we look to when making cuts rather than the first place. We need to start getting serious about our personnel. We might need to look at putting a RIF (Reduction In Force) plan in place."
"It's time for the administration to address these financial realities."
To see the salaries of Dougherty County School System employees, click HERE.
Then Bush added, "I'm with Mr. Maschke. I'd like to see a little action. We all know we need to actually do something other than have meetings."
Board Member Velvet Riggins went a step farther.
"I think it's time we begin looking at our top case administrators and curriculum staff," she said. "Our test scores have not improved in the past five years. We're not educating our children to the best of our ability.
"I want us to look at our salaries and that a RIF might be necessary. Let's review each person."
Anita Williams-Brown thinks the DCSS needs to focus on reducing supplement costs rather that laying off people.
"We have the highest supplements in the region," Williams-Brown said. "That's when people want to teach in the Dougherty County School System. We have some coaches making almost as much as the superintendent. That's not right.
"But I want to thank or staff and teachers. We have some very good teachers in our system, and we want to keep everyone employed.