Written by Tony Capri
The Pickens County Board of Education grappled with more financial concerns last night, as it met for its March meeting. Earlier this month, the Board heard of continued healthcare increases, the result of Obamacare. This week the board heard reports of sluggish revenue streams.
“SPLOST [Revenue] is down a little over $100,000 from last month,”
Board of Education Chief Financial Officer Amy Burgess told the Board. The total revenue for the month was reported to be a little over $290,000, but Burgess was unable to account for the dramatic decrease.
Burgess also told the Board it had collected only 73 percent of its annual budgeted revenue. Additionally, she went on to say property tax collections were low. “Five years ago, we would have collected 95 percent of this money,” she added. At this point, she said, collections are at 88.8 percent.
The theme of funding ran through the entire meeting, as Superintendant Ben Desper used terms such as “a quality product” when referring to a plan to consolidate the middle school football teams, and “good customer service” when discussing plans to redistrict 100 students from neighboring schools to Tate Elementary.
According to the Board, the District will increase State funding by moving students to Tate. The Board plans to take immediate action in contacting families considered for redistricting. Desper, however, assured the community that siblings would not be separated during the shuffle.
Overall, a strong sense of tension and anxiety filled the room, likely attributed to concern over how current programs and features of the Pickens County school system would survive.
Later, the Board entered executive session held in private. Board member Byron Long suggested at least part of the discussion covered teacher positions that may be eliminated after the current school year.
“We’ve got too many teachers for the amount of kids we have,”
Long said, adding “Teacher positions that might otherwise be left open due to scheduled retirees. That’s the preferred way of balancing things out,”
Although Long expressed a hesitation by the Board to lay off any current faculty, it’s clear the school system is in no position to welcome new teachers at this time.
There seems to be a lot of restructuring going on right now, as the Board struggles to find new ways to entice local businesses, as well as find additional veins of income and tighten the belt of spending.