The 2011-12 school year just started a week ago, and the Dougherty County School System is already discussing the 2012-13 budget.
"I think we have to start discussing it now," says Robert Lloyd, Executive Director of Finances and Business Operations at DCSS.
The DCSS Finance Committee has drawn up a plan to meet in October to begin budget discussions, because the school system already faces a shortfall of between $9 million and $12 million.
"It's going to be a monumental task," says Board Member Carol Tharin. "Rather than waiting until May of next year to start looking at our budget that must be approved before June 30th, now's the time to start looking at it."
Tharin says they need to begin regular meetings no later than October because the committee may need to go through each item in the budget. Tharin says personnel makes up approximately 90 percent of the budget, which she says may be where cuts are made.
"I wouldn't want to be a school teacher right now and be given a job by the DCSS knowing that next year, who knows what's going to happen," says Tharin.
Lloyd says they will primarily be going through programs.
"We need to start discussing programs, how those programs are going to be implemented or dropped," he says.
In the midst of trying to plan for next year's budget shortfalls, the state has mandated the school system hire four more science teachers, which Lloyd says is frustrating.
"When we think we're making savings, we're actually not; we're going backwards," he says. "We've had to appoint four more science teachers with a 35 percent on cost related to them but we've got no additional funding from the state."
Tharin agrees that it is frustrating especially when the school system is trying to find millions of dollars for their budget already.
In preparation for the 2012-13 budget, the DCSS Finance Committee plans to develop a quarterly report to help review spending and shows a review of efficiency of viability of programs from financial and productive stand points.
The committee also plans to develop an initial budget planning itinerary by October for fiscal year 2012-13 to allow the Finance Committee to review it with the Superintendent and Finance staff.