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Rockdale public schools looking at $10.2M in cuts, 2 mil tax increase
Board to vote on tentative budget next Thursday
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The Rockdale County Public Schools budget committee recommended to the Board of Education a combination of $10.2 million in budget cuts, a property tax increase of 2 mils and no furlough days for the 2011 budget.

Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis said the committee had come up with three budget options for board members to review. The options took into account an estimated 9.6 percent drop in the local tax digest, along with reduced state funding.

All three options would have cuts of about $10.2 million from the budget.

The first option would have no furlough days and would require an increase of about 2 mils in the school portion of the property tax.

Davis pointed out that due to the drop in property values, even with a 2 mil increase, the school system would collect less in property taxes than in 2010.

The second option would institute five furlough days, which would cut an additional $2.5 million from the budget, and require a 1 mil increase in the school portion of the property tax.

The third option would have 10 furlough days, which would cut an additional $5 million, and require no increase in the school portion of the property tax.

The school portion of the property tax has remained at 21 mils since 2006 and has not increased since 2003.

Superintendent Dr. Samuel King pointed out in recent years, the state has reduced the amount of state funding and mandated furlough days after the school budget was passed for the year. Option 1 would leave more maneuvering room in the case of additional state cuts or mandated furloughs. It would also leave locally funded safety nets intact.

Some of the larger items in the $10.2 million list of cuts included suspending contributions to the Alternative Retirement account for one year ($3.6 million saved), increasing class size by 0.6 students (eliminating 21.5 teacher positions for a savings of $1.4 million), eliminating local funding for 10 special education consultants ($1 million), and suspending computer replacements for this year ($1.2 million). The points system, which allocates funds and resources to the schools, was also revised, reducing 27 teachers equivalents.

However, with 59 retirements coming up at the end of this school year, only four people may be out of a job, said Davis, and those people may be offered positions as substitute teachers or other positions.

The board will vote on a tentative budget at their meeting next Thursday, 7 p.m. in the administrative building. The final budget will be approved in June.