How to Manage Budget Shortfall Without Falling Short For Aiken S - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

How to Manage Budget Shortfall Without Falling Short For Aiken Students

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Aiken County, SC -

Aiken County Board of Education leaders are facing more than a two million dollar shortfall. School leaders say they don't want to fall short for Aiken's students and there are two ways to bridge that gap:  Raise money or cut costs.

Parents on a local playground say they know where they don't want cuts – where they affect their kids.

Phaedra Holtzclaw says she would do anything to help her son Brandon climb to the top- and she's not okay with budget cuts holding him back:

"Why are you going to take away from our future when that's not necessary," she asks.  "That's what's going to make this world when we're gone. Why are you going to take away from that?  I don't want to take away from that."

School leaders say they don't want to take away from that either, but that they are facing some tough choices.

"We've got a whole list of wants, right now we're having to deal with just how do we keep what we've already got," says school board member Tad Barber.

Holtzclaw knows what she says they have to keep - early education and reading intervention.

"There's already enough of our graduates now days that graduate not knowing how to read or do basic math," she says.  "If you cut back, you're going to make more of that and that's unacceptable."

Barber says schools may have to increase millage rates for businesses, and will focus on keeping the most cost effective successful programs; but it's hard when you're constantly changing your game plan.

"Just as we think we know where the goal line is, we look and it's moved a little further down the field," he says.

That's because while schools must have their budget done in June, the state legislature may not let them know how much money they have until school starts again.  Holtzclaw says that's not playing fairly.

"If I have to live on a strict budget, they do too," she says. "I can't wait until the last minute to make a budget for my household."

And when it comes to education, she says it's dangerous not to pay by those rules:

"Then you are scrounging around and you have to make drastic cuts that are unnecessary because you don't know what to do," she says.

The board of education will host a meeting June 4th for public input.  The budget is due June 25th.

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