Fairfield County School Board Takes First Look at Budget

Members of the Fairfield County School Board got their first look at the proposed 2012-2013 budget May 22 and followed that up with a second budget work session Tuesday night.

Dr. David Eubanks, interim superintendent, called the budget one of the most significant the District has had in many years, as the 2012-2013 budget attempts to reconcile a loss of state revenues with an effort to fund salary increases for District employees, and do so without a tax increase.

The District is expected to lose $290,771 in special revenue funding from the state in the coming fiscal year, with the largest decreases coming in funding to At Risk Student Learning ($109,158), Special Ed ($84,448) and Aid to Districts ($66,487), according to Kevin Robinson, the District’s Director of Finance. The District will also lose $909,831 in technical assistance and stimulus funds from the state.

A long anticipated salary increase for District employees will add $2.7 million to the new budget, Robinson said, which has been offset by a reduction of 50.8 positions in the District. The reductions constitute a savings of $2.8 million, Robinson said, and were made through attrition, with only critical vacancies scheduled to be filled.

“Sometimes, you have to make cuts,” Andrea Harrison, Board Chairwoman, said last week. “We’ve gone a long time without having to make any cuts, and time has finally caught up with us.”

The proposed cuts will be most felt at Fairfield Central High School, with 15.8 positions planned for elimination. Nine positions will be cut from the District Office, seven at Fairfield Elementary, six at Fairfield Middle School, three each at Fairfield Magnet School, the Career Center and Gordon Odyssey, two at Kelly Miller and one at McCrorey-Liston.

Late in the May 22 meeting, Board member Bobby Cunningham placed a motion on the floor to accept the cuts. Although the motion received a second from Marchella Pauling, the Board then veered off into a lengthy discussion of the cuts and no vote was ever called for.

“That was an oversight on my part,” Harrison said, adding that she would make sure the item was placed on the Board’s June 5 agenda.

While the cuts will make way for salary increases, the Board did not vote to accept the proposed salary scale presented at the May 22 meeting. The lowest minimum hourly rate under the proposed salary scale would be $10.48. The lowest minimum salaried rate would be $16,419.

While Cunningham and Danielle Miller were prepared to accept the scale and move forward with adjustments as necessary, the salaries prompted questions from Annie McDaniel.

“We need to review and study this thing,” McDaniel said after Cunningham asked the Chairwoman if a motion to accept was necessary. “We’re going to start a payroll clerk at the same thing as a nurse? I’m only asking that we talk about this. I see some positions on here without degrees making more than people who have degrees.”