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School system could get more state funding

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County schools could get about $6 million more from state funding than originally projected for the fiscal year 2005 budget.

The finance and budget committee of the Clayton County Board of Education discussed state education funding during a meeting Tuesday.

The Georgia General Assembly passed a budget, but Gov. Sonny Perdue immediately vetoed the budget, saying that it wasn't a balanced budget.

The budget restored $204 million in cuts to education and would give about $6 million to the Clayton County school system, Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis said.

The school board prepared for higher cuts and approved system-wide cuts, including cutting 51 teaching positions, 44 physical education positions, two orchestra teaching positions and two senior administrative positions.

The cuts were based on the governor's original budget, Davis said. Since then, the General Assembly added $204 million to education funding.

If the budget stands as is, the school board could add back some of those cuts or could be used to help the school system get closer to a balanced budget, Davis said.

Board member Carol Kellam noted that with the additional funding comes additional costs.

"There goes your money down the drain," Kellam said.

An unfunded mandate by the state requires school systems to place third-graders who fail the reading portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in transition classes or extended early intervention program sessions.

The General Assembly must reconvene and come up with a budget the governor will sign for fiscal year 2005 before the school system will know for sure how much state funding the system will receive.

In other business, the committee decided to change its meeting time to 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month starting in May. The committee will also recommend to the full board that bids be accepted for auditing companies in an effort to shop for the best deal.