20 Aug 2014
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Clarke County Schools Face Budget Gap of $8.9 million

Slashed state funds, austerity cuts, unfunded mandates and a declining local tax revenues mean staff reductions, among other measures.

Clarke County Schools Face Budget Gap of $8.9 million Clarke County Schools Face Budget Gap of $8.9 million

A million here, a milion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money, to quote the late Senator Everett Dirkensen.

In the case of the , you're talking about $8.9 million. That's the amount that Superintendent Philip Lanoue told the school board must be cut from a new adjusted budget for the system.

"We need to close the spending revenue gap by the end of the next year," he told the School Board Thursday night. They are expected to vote on the proposed budget in a called meeting on April 19.

There will be public hearings on the budget on May 15, 22 and 24.

What may be cut from the school district's already bare bones budget?

First of all, there will be no raises for teachers or support staff. Lanoue is proposing to increase the number of furlough days (for those making $35,000 or more) from 3 to 5, thus saving $870,000.

The opening of two new elementary schools, the one on the Westside and the Eastside new , will be delayed. Opening those schools could cost $1million each, and school officials realized they couldn't do it.

Eliminating 32 parapro positions from first grade classrooms will yield $756,000. Twelve fewer high school teachers will mean $780,000 in savings. Redoing workers comp will save $1million.

Decreasing the elementary staff by 9 will produce $585,000. Good-bye 15 media center parapros, for a savings of $368,000. The details of the cuts can be found on the school district's website.

Before Lanoue explained the budget to the board, board member Vernon Payne gave an impassioned speech against charter schools and railed against how "public education has been shortchanged for years. This shortfall didn't start yesterday, it's been going on a long time."

In other business, Lanoue told the board he's recommending that the student/teacher ratios remain unchanged from those used this year. So kindergarten classes will have a maximum of 22 students; first through third grade, 23 students; fourth and fifth grade, 30 students; middle school, 30 students a class; and high school, 34 students in standard classes.

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