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Montgomery BOE Forced to Make More Cuts
Tuesday, 18 August 2009

August 18--  The Montgomery County School System is in dire financial shape.

School Superintendent Dr. Lynn Batten told the school board Monday night the system is projected to end the fiscal year nearly a half-million dollars in the hole and with a meager reserve fund of about $175,000.

Things could get worse in fiscal year 2010 because dwindling state revenue collections could mean a further reduction in the state's support of local school systems.

"We don't have any additional ways to cut other than personnel salaries and employee benefits.  We have milked the operations part of this budget to the point of being risky," he said.

As a result, the school board adopted Dr. Batten's recommendation for a revised 2010 budget which reduces expenditures by nearly $400,000 and includes five more furlough days for all employees.

School Board Chairman Randall Morris says, "We've taken the approach that it's better for everybody to take a little hit rather than starting cutting (personnel) left and right.  We also think it's better for our kids to keep the lowest student-teacher ratio in our classrooms as we can.  We just think that, at least initially, an across the board approach of taking furlough days is a better one for us."

Montgomery school employees have already taken one furlough day this year and are now facing a total of seven more.  Dr. Batten says those days will be the week of October 12th and May 25-26.

Other cost-cutting measures approved by the board are no field trips, no transportation to football and basketball games for the band and cheerleaders, use sales tax revenue wherever legal to reduce the drain on the general fund, reduce supplies, travel, staff development; and save on substitute teacher money by using para-pros and other school personnel.

The school board is also studying recommendations from Dr. Batten to reduce the number of personnel in the school system over the next three years.  He says a reduction of 16 positions, including five teaching jobs, will save an estimated $780,000.  The board plans to take up the reduction plan at its meeting in September.

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