School board may eliminate 1 furlough day

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Decatur County Board of Education appears ready to remove one furlough day from the 2013-14 school year’s calendar.

During a board workshop Monday evening, School Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield told the board that the system can afford reducing the number of furlough days, from six in 2012-13 to five in 2013-14. Each furlough day saves the system about $142,000, but Rayfield said there is enough room in the proposed budget to handle that increase.

“We haven’t really been able to do anything monetarily positive to help our employees in the last five years,” Rayfield said. “I would love to see us give back one furlough day. I think it’s a message that we’re trying to do everything that we can to help.”

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The proposed budget for 2013-14, which is subject to change, currently has estimated revenues of $37.1 million and estimated expenditures of $38.3 million. The $1.2 million deficit will have to be addressed by the school system’s fund balance, which currently is estimated at $3.6 million. Assuming the proposed budget passes, that anticipated deficit will reduce the fund balance to $2.6 million.

After some discussion, board members arrived at a consensus that they would seek a 2013-14 budget that has only five furlough days.

Rayfield also told the board that the system is pursuing a federal grant that would help pay for one additional school resource officer. It costs about $52,000 to employ a school resource officer, and the federal grant would pay for 75 percent of that cost — or about $39,000.

Rayfield said the grant would be good for three years, and after that it would be up to the school board whether to eliminate the position or continue funding it at the full cost.

“Obviously we’d love to have an officer at each of our schools, but that’s not financially feasible right now,” Rayfield said.

Rayfield did tell the board that the system will be using about $150,000 from its E-SPLOST funding to help improve security at schools. Some of the improvements include more secure “buzz-in” entrances for schools that do not already have them, as well as additional surveillance cameras.

Rayfield noted that E-SPLOST cannot be used for personnel, so that money could not be used to hire more officers.