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More Budget Cuts for Schools
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
July 22-- Governor Sonny Perdue announced more budget cuts in state education on Tuesday.

Perdue held a conference call with superintendents state-wide before calling a press conference Tuesday afternoon which announced a 3% decrease in state funding and 3 furlough days for all school employees before the end of the year.

Governor Perdue emphasized to superintendents that many state agencies have decreased budgets up to 20%.

"Many of our state agencies are down 12-20%, and we have tried to hold the reductions in education to less than 3%. But the facts are, when QBE makes up about 42% of our budget, that is apart of diminishing returns as you go looking for deeper and deeper cuts elsewhere that are more and more difficult to find," explains Perdue.

Vidalia School Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith says the governor legally cannot furlough teachers, but does have the means to withhold three days of salaries from the teachers.

"The governor announced that even though he did not think he had the authority to furlough teachers, he had the authority to withhold the equivalent of three days salary for all educators. He is going to let the local school systems determine how to make up that difference. Of course what we are going to have to do is furlough people, because most of the school systems I am familiar with, and Vidalia City specifically, we've already cut out all of the things that we can cut out. So to compensate for the withholding of the three days of salary between now and December 31, we are going to have to close down for three days that were teacher workdays," explains Smith.

Smith also says the 3% decrease to school funding may cause him to cut back on the number of employees.

"The other part of his announcement was he is going to withhold an additional 3% of our QBE earnings, which equates to almost $340,000 for Vidalia City. We don't have to decide what we're going to cut, because we've already cut all the 'whats,' now we're going to have to look at the who we're going to cut, and that is a very difficult decision ," says Smith.

Superintendent of Treutlen County Schools, Chuck Ellington, says it's discouraging to see these extremes taken in public education, but every effort is being made to ensure the furlough days will not cut into instructional classroom time.

"It's unfortunate that public education will be affected by the 3% cuts. And it's also disheartening to realized that furloughs will now affect public education. We have been asked by the governor's office to minimize the impact of the furloughs on classroom instruction, and we are trying to evaluate our calendars at the present time," says Ellington.
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