Early College Program to discontinue in Richmond County schools; tentative budget approved


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County School Board is approving a tentative budget for the 2020-2021 school year that includes some cuts.

With this new, provisional school budget, the plan is to cut Quality Basic Education or QBE funding by 14%. The funding is going to be more than $24 million for the upcoming school year.

“It’s nothing that should severely impact the operation of school or the services we provide to children,” said Kaden Jacobs, Communications and Policy Strategist.

More than 30,000 students are enrolled in Richmond County schools. School leaders say one of their goals for the school system is to expand technology access for 60% of the student population.

Department budgets and the central office budget are being retooled in hopes of doing more with less.

Jacobs explained, “Each department has different cuts. I’ll say for communications, we’ll be printing a lot less so we’ll be reaching out a lot more digitally. Say for instance for maintenance and facilities, they may be doing more of their maintenance in house rather than contracting with someone else.

The Early College Program will be discontinued due to reduced funding and House Bill 444.

“(It) Came out and reduced the amount of hours that high school students can take college programming. And as a result of that, because it used to be unlimited, that early college model is just no longer sustainable. It doesn’t make sense to have kids go for a limited amount of time. They’re not getting everything they could get out of it,” said Jacobs.

Dual enrollment courses will still be offered.

Furlough days are also coming back this looming school year. A total of five from December to March. December 21 and 22, 2020. In 2021, January 4, February 12, and March 15. There’s an additional furlough day for the senior team on October 12, 2020.

“What we looked at is try and tie them to days that we were already off to minimize the impact so Christmas break gets three of them tied in. I think there was another professional learning holiday that we tact another furlough day on. Obviously, it’s not ideal but we tried to make as beneficial as we could,” said Jacobs.

No jobs are being cut in the new budget.

Jacobs added, “We’ve done a reorganization. We’re trying to be lean but still the same amount of efficiency that we’ve always been.”

The first day of school is scheduled for August 3. There is a survey out that parents and teachers can complete so you can give your input on how school should return.

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