The Dougherty County School System has released the following statement regarding finances and furloughs:
"We are paying, now, because of some spending habits of the past when the system had a lot of money," said Dr. David Mosely of the action taken Friday to save nearly $2 million as part of a reduction in force plan, part of an overall plan to reduce $8 million in budgeted expenditures for fiscal year 2015. "That day is over and we can no longer fund positions that can't be justified. I'm sorry, but the reality is we have to make cuts to maintain any sort of financial credibility and stay within budget limitations."
Executive Director for Finance and Operations, Kenneth Dyer painted a vivid picture of the financial situation to the system's leadership team and to the Board of Education finance committee. In ongoing reviews of master schedules at the middle and high schools, some new discoveries were made.
Although DCSS hasn't received its official state allotment for FY2015, QBE funding is expected to be approximately $200,000 more than in FY2014. While that is good news, the rising cost of teacher retirement and required salary steps for teachers, in addition to the cost of reducing furlough days and preserving the reserve at an acceptable level, will combine for an estimated $8.3 million in increased expenses. The board is maintaining a strong position for the reduction of furlough days. Each furlough day is worth approximately $500,000 for the system.
To address the projected shortfall, administrators have been considering a combination of reducing non-QBE funded programs and positions, improving efficiency in non-instructional areas, and improving efficiency of master schedules to optimize class size across the system.
"The issues the administration is addressing are an accumulation of things going back several years," said Kenneth Dyer, DCSS chief financial officer. "During those times there was enough money to maintain the excess staff. When that luxury was no longer available, it was decided to implement 10 furlough days; but, there comes a time when you have to address the root cause of the problems. And that is what we are attempting to do." Dyer reported that the review process is ongoing and other staffing and program changes may be recommended.
Dyer reported to system leadership that there are significant scheduling inefficiencies, especially at the middle and high school levels. He explained it is hard to justify paying middle school elective course teachers full-time salaries when they only teach three out of six periods a day and when those classes have very low enrollment, especially when we have full classrooms in many of our English, math, science and social studies courses. Dyer further explained that the number of certain administrative positions exceed the number funded through the state allotment.
Although written notices were sent out in compliance with state law, Dyer also scheduled meetings with each of the effected employees to break the news to them face-to-face.
"Superintendent Mosely and I agreed that we should meet with each employee to let them know what was happening and why. We also wanted to answer any questions they had and make sure they understand the options available to them after their employment with the Dougherty County School System ends."
"It's not pleasant and we don't take it lightly," said Dyer. "But as stewards of public funds, we must act in the most fiscally responsible way to meet the constraints of this challenge."