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School budget approved
Budget avoids many job cuts
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The Board of Education approved the budget for the 2010 fiscal year at their June 18 meeting.

Included in the strategies for Rockdale County Public School Budget this upcoming school term were to design and create learning opportunities that will allow all students to reach their highest achievement; provide support for all families, students, and staff for the highest potential; and provide a safe orderly learning environment, according to the RCPS.

The instruction, improvement of instruction and educational media services make up nearly three quarters of RCPS expenditures and impact the classroom directly. Jointly these three activities total 72.27 percent. In addition, the maintenance and operations accounts are complied of 8.07 percent for the budget.

"When you factor out fixed costs, we have little discretionary dollars. Any time we have a budget cut, it has an impact on our operations," said Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis of Rockdale County Public Schools. "The RCPS budget is approximately 90 percent salaries and benefits."

Rockdale County Public Schools had to decrease their funds by roughly 71 paraprofessionals positions for the upcoming school term but managed to do it without firing anyone. "The good news was that not a single paraprofessional lost a job. This was accomplished by attrition, retirements, other funding sources and creative thinking. We made some of the paraprofessionals long-term subs, which were basically budget neutral. We also modified our points plan, which is a method of staffing our schools. I believe the positive news is we were able to not make some of the drastic cuts other school systems have made."

DeKalb County had to cut 127 employees even after reductions such as eliminating raises or step increases for teachers. Newton County’s school system cut at least 40 positions from its personnel.

When considering the adjustments made from the previous year budget, Davis said very little changes were made. "The dollar total is almost identical. The biggest difference is the paraprofessionals. Another positive is that we did include textbooks in this year’s budget."

No new initiatives are being implemented within the budget due to the austerity reductions. "With all the austerity reductions from the state and the potential for further cuts after the budget is adopted, we believe it would be fiscally irresponsible to implement major additions this year," said Lee.