Georgetown school district puts forth plan to trim budget

Up to 55 positions could be lost, but Georgetown County School District leaders offered a way Tuesday to cut $2 million without closing any schools or forcing furloughs.

The board did not take formal action on the plan, but members indicated they prefer the latest proposals to those involving closing schools, ordering unpaid furloughs or using reserve funds.

At a work session Tuesday, district finance officer Lisa Johnson presented the staff's plan to cover the budget shortfall due to the loss of $6 million in federal stimulus money.

Johnson said about $3.2 million worth of the lost funds will result in eliminating programs or employees or using other funds. But the district is expected to get an additional $1.2 million in state money.

The adjustments leave about $2 million yet to be covered, she said, but Superintendent Randy Dozier cautioned the state figures can still change.

Among items to be cut are athletics for middle schools, at a cost of $79,600, and drivers' education, at a cost of $127,094. Dozier said driver's ed is costly at $853 per student. The district could sell the cars and contract the service for less money, he suggested.

Another savings of $204,325 would be garnered by using the $275 for supplies that each of the 743 teachers is to receive from the state to pay 3.3 teacher salaries.

Dozier said teachers suggested the move.

Another $308,219 would be cut from the substitute teacher program, still leaving $500,000. Dozier said substitute costs for the district are higher than average and should be cut, but he is not sure yet how that will be implemented.

Also on the chopping block is the summer arts program for gifted and talented students. That would save $62,513.

The biggest slice would be $351,058, which would delete 11 positions from the district office. Dozier said district personnel have been cut every year for the past for years, and everyone is doing multiple jobs but he thinks it can be covered mostly by retirements.

The board may still consider closing Plantersville Elementary, which has only 97 pupils, and sending them to Browns Ferry Elementary, or closing Carvers Bay Middle and sending the pupils to Carvers Bay High. Those two moves alone would save $1.6 million.