Budget Cuts

While school systems across the state and country are looking for way to trim their budgets, seems the Loudon County school system is intent to just get fatter.

A couple of weeks ago I reported that county school administrators had presented their 2010-2011 budget request that asked for nearly two million in new operating costs. Sadly, after a couple more budget meetings that request has been only been reduced to about $1.8 million. Given the current state of the economy, the pending building program and just general common sense $1.8 million in new spending is ridiculous. 

To begin with, it's not likely that commission will raise the property tax rate this year nor should they so there will be no new revenue. This leaves only one place to get any additional revenue to cover the extra $1.8 million in new spending. The building fund.

$1.8 million increase in the school operating costs would require a 15 cent property tax increase or taking the 15 pennies from the building fund which would eliminate the building program all together.

In order to balance the budget and at the same time eliminate some questionable spending here are my recommendations to the budget committee.

  • Eliminate all 9 Intervention Specialists for a savings of approximately $250,000.00. This is no reflection on the job of these individuals, just a matter of priority. 
  • Eliminate all 7 new positions proposed for the 2010-2011 budget for a savings of approximately $200,000.00.
  • Request all department heads to cut 3% from current budgets for a savings of approximately $1.100,000.00.
  • Explore options to merge Family Resource Center with Loudon County Education Foundation for a savings of approximately $70,000.00.
  • Explore options to partner with the private sector to manage the Pre K program for a savings of approximately $100,000.00 to $300,000.00. Not only could this save the school system a lot of money but just as or more importantly would free up desperately needed floor space in several schools. Across the state many school systems have partnered with private business to manage their Pre K programs with great success according to the Governor's Pre K web site. Everyone knows that the private sector is far more capable of managing money than government.
  • Eliminate the nearly $200,000.00 in administrative raises in the proposed budget.

These are just some options the budget committee can take to balance the budget. There are more. 

On the other side, the board needs to provide all school employees with a pay increase this year if there is any way possible. That may depend entirely on how successful we are in trimming the budget. It would be my hope that we could provide a 2% or 3% increase to all employees.

The next meeting of the budget committee will be this Thursday at 4:30 at the Central Office board room.