The Troup County Board of Education could take action next month on budget proposals that could mean big changes in the organization of elementary schools.
“Our task is to make decisions that are, in the long range, in the best interest of the Troup County School System,” said Superintendent Cole Pugh. “It might not be best interest of a particular neighborhood, a particular employee or a particular campus, or whatever, but we have to look out for the Troup County School System as a whole.”
The school system is looking at two plans, a plan A that includes proposals to eliminate extension teachers and art and music in elementary schools, which would save about $3 million combined, and increase the millage rate, which, if raised by 1 mill, is expected to generate $1.8 million. Pugh said the move would be the bare minimum to get through the next year.
Plan B includes closing an elementary school, possibly Unity, a $1.1 million expected savings, while still implementing some options listed in Plan A. However, it would take a long-range view approach of expanding and relocating other elementary schools, creating larger elementary schools serving more students in a wider area, and placed where they would be more centrally located for their zoning areas.
Regardless of which plan is chosen, the school system is planning to redraw attendance lines for elementary schools.
“A large majority of (Advisory) Task Force members say they understand we need to move toward larger elementary schools,” Pugh said. “… Most of the group feels plan A is not the best approach to take to the future. Plan B will mean we close a school next year, but enlarging other schools for the future of the school system.”
The board on Thursday is expected to choose two public hearing dates for the proposed closing of a school. Pugh suggested the board take any action on closing a school at its February meeting to give employees, students and parents enough time to know where they will be going in the next school year.
Pugh repeated that the school system’s constant battle with budget shortfalls, which has estimated for the next school year at about $4 million, is due to the state underfunding local school systems. Next year, the state’s funding to Troup County schools is expected to come up $16.5 million under its full funding amount.
“Your average citizen wants to know why year after year after year, the Troup County School System has deficits,” Pugh said. “It’s because the state is not funding its financial formula.”
Pugh said the school system has made deep cuts, and to continue without making more or taking drastic steps to change revenue and expenses would be impractical.
“Now, last year, we cut more out of budgets, percent-wise, than anywhere else I’ve ever been,” Pugh said, adding that last year’s cuts were equal to three to four years’ cuts at any district he’s previously served. ” … Last year we cut a total of ($)4.8 million out of our budgets, but I don’t anticipate us coming back and saying we found another 4.8 million.”
Anyone with questions or suggestions for the budget was asked to contact the school system at email@example.com.