Richmond County BOE To Finalize Budget Next Week - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Richmond County BOE To Finalize Budget Next Week

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Augusta, GA -

There is a possibility of job cuts for Richmond County Schools. The school board met Tuesday night to try to figure out how to fix a $23 million dollar shortfall. The current proposal would cut more than a hundred positions including teachers, paraprofessionals and janitors.

Last week, the Richmond County Board of Education passed a tentative budget for the 2013 - 2014 school year. Although there could be some changes, right now the budget includes job cuts, more students per classroom and property tax increases.

Controller Gene Spires says for the 2013 - 2014 school year, the state has cut about 20 million dollars of funding to the county.

"That's the story we get, you know the pie is only so big. The state has also been suffering through the recession over the last few years and so they have to pass it down," says Spires.

The proposed budget calls for the elimination of 75 teacher positions, 22 para professionals, 30 custodians and a few other positions. Because of the cuts, there will be more students in classrooms and 8 furlough days this upcoming school year. Jack Padgett voted the budget down last week because he says he felt adding a 9th furlough day would prevent the job eliminations.

"I just thought, number one, we haven't planned properly. Number two, we have hired people that we now have to let go, which we are looking at 150 people total. 75 certified teachers and principals. So this just puts us under the gun and I think it's poor management not to be able to do it earlier," says Padgett.

Spires says personnel costs are about 85% of the budget, so cutting positions decreased the school system's expenses.

"Healthcare costs have been a tremendous burden because they are continuing to go up and we know they are going up again next year, particularly on our classified employees," says Spires.

The budget also includes several cuts to utilities and supplies, as well as a 7% cut to the budget of all Richmond County Schools. But that isn't all, property taxes will be going up as well.

"It is hitting the taxpayers in Richmond County that really a lot of them can't afford to be hit because the economy is not as it should be here and it's not really at the state level. They are showing increases in revenues, but they are showing major cuts too," says Padgett.

The board of education will finalize the budget on Thursday June 27th at 4pm.

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