BOE further discusses budget reduction plan

Clayton County Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley and school board members gave the superintendent’s proposed budget reduction plan further consideration during a board retreat meeting held last week.

A strong concern among the majority of board members was Heatley’s recommendation of “restructuring” staffing at elementary, middle, and high schools.

In middle schools, he said, the district expects to save $12.8 million, and in high schools, $18.8 million, over a three-year period. No estimated savings were given for elementary schools, however.

“Restructuring is changing the way [schools] currently do business,” Heatley said. Which he said means staffing according to the state formula.

Board members seemed to be particularly concerned that Heatley proposal would make substantial cuts in areas dealing with teaching and learning, which could have an impact on academic success. To help ease their uneasiness, Heatley told board members he would provide them with a more in-depth report on the budget-reduction plan and the restructuring of elementary, middle, middle, and high schools.

However, Heatley told a reporter, the details of those changes was not available.

When asked if this $40 million shortfall will result in teachers and district losing their jobs, Heatley said, “Every position in the district is being evaluated.”

Earlier this month, during a board of education meeting, Heatley presented board members with his proposal for a budget-reduction plan aimed at helping the county deal with an estimated $65 million budget shortfall over the next three years.

The shortfall is anticipated because of continuing economic woes, a shrinking or stagnant tax digest, and expected cuts in federal and state funds. Heatley said his plan will save the district more than $55 million over that three-year period.

Some of Heatley’s other proposed reductions, include: Eliminating middle school athletics ($2.6 million); eliminating eight positions in safety and security, and restructuring the School Resource Officer contract, ($1.6 million); eliminating two positions in Human Resources ($331,551); eliminating four positions in professional learning ($887,508); and adding five instructional days to the school-year calendar ($15.4 million).

The board is expected to vote on the final budget reduction plan, at the next board of education meeting, that will be held on April 30.