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More cuts coming
School officials brace for the worst
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Local school officials are preparing to tighten belts districtwide as they ready for another round of state funding cuts.


State leaders spoke last week with Keith Porter, Dawson County Schools superintendent, about looming reductions in contributions to local systems.


The state cuts could lower the system’s general fund balance by about 72 percent, Porter said.


The local school system’s 2010 ending fund balance was $3.2 million.


Possible cuts from the state’s Quality Basic Education, or QBE, earnings could leave the system with a $912,000 balance going into 2011.


The QBE funding formula determines the amount of money allotted kindergarten-12th grade schools in Georgia. The formula is based on student population, as well as pupils’ needs and demographics.


The cuts have not yet occurred, but the Dawson County School Board unanimously approved a 2011 budget last week that takes into account the possible reductions.


The system’s projected 2011 budget is $33.7 million.


During the meeting, Porter addressed the situation.


“Based on the QBE formula [the state] has provided us, we’re receiving about half of what we actually earned from them,” Porter said. “It’s just heartbreaking.”


Porter said later that school officials “will be sitting on pins and needles throughout the year regarding our ending fund balance.”


“We were told the cuts could come any time between July and January,” he said.


The system may look at more furlough days for employees and deeper cuts to benefits if conditions do not improve


“If we have further cuts, there could be other items we have to look at during the school year,” Porter said.


In June, the school board approved a resolution to increase class sizes, following the state’s decision to remove such limitations.


Raising class sizes has been a savings to the system, Porter said.


If revenues continue to drop, however, the board may consider further work schedule reductions, lowering the number of instruction days and increasing the millage rate.


“Unless revenues go [up], we’re looking at a tough budget year again next year,” Porter said. “What makes that even more difficult is we’re going into the year with only $912,000 in reserve. It makes us uneasy.”