The Dougherty County School Board will hold a called meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss issues, including more efficient transportation routes, as it addresses an $8.1 million shortfall in its $122 million FY 2015 budget. The system(File Photo)
ALBANY — The Dougherty County School Board will hold a called meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the school system administration building to discuss the district’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget and how to address an $8.1 million shortfall in the anticipated $122 million budget.
That shortfall was reduced to just more than $7 million last week when the board approved more than two dozen teacher and administrative retirements, resignations and non-renewals, which DCSS Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer said will save the system more than $800,000.
Dougherty School System Superintendent Butch Mosely said copies of the proposed new budget would be available during the called work session, and that questions or comments from the public would not be allowed during the meeting. He stressed, however, that he and his staff would be available to the media and public after the session to discuss concerns or questions about the budget.
“My staff and I will be there as long as it takes to answer any and all questions,” Mosely said.
The deadline for submitting the 2014-15 budget to the state is June 30. By law, the board must conduct two open meetings to gather input from the public before approving the final spending plan, which goes into effect July 1.
The challenge for the system is to balance the budget before it is submitted to the state. The board has several options to shrink the shortfall, among them are:
• Reduction of non-QBE (Quality Basic Education) funded programs.
Examples of such programs are the Albany Early College and PALS (Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies) in elementary and middle schools, among others. Dyer said grants and federal Title I and II money are no longer available for these programs and would have to be paid for from the general fund’s reserve, which currently contains $10 million.
• Reduction of non-QBE funded positions.
Mosely pointed out that the DCSS has six or seven assistant principals over the maximum funded by the state. Those salaries are currently paid out of the general fund.
• Improve efficiency in non-instructional areas.
An example is improving school bus routes through GPS to ensure the shortest routes with the optimum number of passengers.
• Improve efficiency of master schedules.
An example is reviewing that each teacher maximizes his or her class time with a full class load.
The board also could decide to not follow through with a recently authorized $1.2 million purchase of new text books. Staff furloughs, which currently stand at four days and save the system approximately $500,000 per day, also will be looked at.
Dyer, however, said the board’s stated goal of removing all four days is still on the table and will remain a priority as discussions continue.