At its work session on Tuesday, May 12, the Dawson County Board of Education discussed state budget cuts and how they would affect the district in the 2020-21 school year, as well as several policy updates for the upcoming year.
According to Superintendent Damon Gibbs, much of the budget planning for the upcoming year will be hinged on how much of a cut state funding will take in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think everybody has heard the comments from the state that all budgets will be slashed 14% with no exceptions,” Gibbs said. “That ‘with no exceptions’ is put in there so that we understand that it’s going to impact K-12 education. We are about 50% of the state budget and what that means for Dawson County is gonna be somewhere to the tune of about $2.65 million.”
The budget will also be affected by the local fair share percentage.
“We’re expecting our local fair share percentage to increase by 12.8% because it’s based on the digest two years ago, so that means we’re going to lose about $800,000 of local fair share,” Gibbs said. “This means we’re going to be making modifications to our budget to the tune of approximately $3.4 million.”
Since the state’s announcement of budget cuts, Dawson County School System staff have been working hard to figure out how to react to the slash in state funding.
“We’ve been working around the clock since that announcement and we will be getting information to the board as we move over the next several weeks in regards to how we’re going to handle that downturn in state funding,” Gibbs said.
Since the 14% budget cuts apply only to state funding which makes up 48% of the total budget, local funding could help to balance the cuts out.
“We still don’t have any idea what our local digest is gonna be, so if we see an increase in the local digest that could possibly offset that 3.4 million,” Gibbs said. “So we’re just being very careful as we move into the next couple weeks and hoping that we’ll know very soon what our local digest and local numbers will be.”
In addition to the budget concerns, the board was presented with policy updates concerning health and physical education, employee leave and absences, and the system’s Wellness Program, as well as a few slight modifications to the 2020-21 student handbook. The board members received copies of the updated policies to review and will vote on them at the board’s regular meeting next week.