School board tweaks tentative budget

By Greg Gelpi

Tweaking its tentative budget, the Clayton County Board of Education added funding to school security, while modifying who would get pay raises under the plan.

The school board met Monday night in its final of two public hearings on the fiscal year 2006 budget before its June 6 meeting to consider adopting the final budget.

The board agreed with a proposal from Clayton County schools Superintendent Barbara Pulliam to shift $100,000 from a proposed compensation study to fund additional school security.

The tentatively approved budget had allocated $500,000 for the study, but Pulliam anticipated the study costing considerably less. The transfer of funds raised the budgeted money for additional school security to $400,000 for the next fiscal year.

"Should we need it," Pulliam said, "it will assist in additional measures."

The board also adjusted its plans to give all employees a 2 percent pay raise.

The tentative budget would pass on the 2 percent pay raise approved by the Georgia General Assembly for teachers, as well as awarding the 2 percent raise to all other school system employees.

The board, however, amended that proposal to exclude three assistant superintendents and three central office secretaries, who had received "significant" pay increases earlier in the school year. Those raises prompted the board to enact a moratorium on pay raises and approve the compensation study.

The pay raise is one part of the option approved by the board of the five options that the board considered.

Pulliam and the school board's citizens advisory committee recommended the option tentatively adopted by the board.

Significant expenses in all five options include the compensation study, $159,000 for a chief financial officer, $2.7 million for a state-mandated Georgia Performance Standards roll-out, $750,000 to establish a research and evaluation department and $2.3 million for the county's first charter school.

All of the options considered call for saving the school system $4.3 million by cutting the instructional technology specialist position at each of the county's 55 schools.

The instructional technology specialists would be given the option of taking positions as classroom teachers.

Other significant savings in all five options include more than $270,000 by eliminating six central office secretaries, about $213,000 by eliminating two coordinators in Teaching and Learning, $5 million by more effectively using Title VIB funds and $2.1 million by using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds to cover laptop lease payments.

Other positions that would be cut by all five options are a custodian, two paraprofessionals in maintenance, a part-time position in Teaching and Learning and one training specialist.

Many of the positions offered up for elimination are currently vacant or soon to be vacated by retirements.

The short-term goal is a balanced budget, Chief Financial Officer Theresa McDugald said. The long-term goal is to set aside $28 million in reserves.

The budget process comes in the wake of the school system suffering a combined $41.8 million in state funding cuts from the past five years.

The tentative budget does not raise taxes.