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Long schools to lost $1.2 million next year
MR BoE april 09
Long County BoE budget director Bridget Welch speaks to board members about funding cuts coming from the state. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
According to Long County School Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters, early projections from the state indicate the system will lose around $1.2 million for the 2009-10 fiscal year.
“Its bad, that’s all I can say. The state cuts and the reduction in the equalization grant is going to hit us hard,” he said.
According to Waters, in addition to the cuts from the state, an equalization grant that usually assits poorer counties was cut by $112 million statewide.  
Waters said the equalization grant was created to put the amount of money spent by poorer counties on par with spending by counties that have more money. It is based on the tax millage levied locally.  
Two years ago, the Long County Board of Education reduced the amount of mills levied by 3.648 as a result of the county-wide reassessment on property, resulting in an increase in property values. As a result of this reduction, Waters said, it is now impacting the funds received through the equalization grant.
“The BoE had an opportunity to help local tax payers by reducing the millage rate following a reassessment which significantly impacted the tax digest. The loss of equalization of the 3.368 mills plus the statewide cut will negatively impact the Long County School System’s budget by approximately $1.2 million,” he said.
On April 23, the BoE had a workshop to look at the anticipated cuts and to begin to think of ways the schools could deal with them.
Waters was asked how these changes would affect plans to build a new high school and plans to remodel existing schools.
“Well, fortunately the capitol outlay funds for what was already planned for next year have already been allocated and we will get them. So, the work that was going to be done at Smiley and the high school will still take place,” Waters said.
He added, “People also need to be aware, that these funds can only go towards capitol outlay projects, like buildings, and they can’t be used in our budget. They’re completely different from the state funds for operating the schools.”
At the budget meeting, Waters and budget director Bridget Welch went over the proposed budget line by line and were questioned by board members about each proposed cut.
According to Waters, the system is trying to find cuts in four ways.
“We are adjusting our budget by using available stimulus money, tightening our belts with a nickel here and dime there, reclassifying positions and through attrition,” Waters said.
During the meeting, board members also asked Waters about plans to lay off employees due to budget cuts.
“We are very sensitive to a reduction in staff,” board member Dempsey Golden said.
Board member Linda DeLoach also posed a question.
“So, at this point, we’re not talking about losing any jobs then?”
Waters responded, “As of today, we are not talking about anyone losing a job next year. There may be some jobs reclassified and some people may be reassigned to a new position, but no, at this point, no jobs are planned to be lost, except through attrition.”
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