Director of Financial Services Alan Melson said the board needed between $3 and $4.5 million balance in order to pay expenses for the upcoming year. He stated the current projected balance without a millage rate increase is $1.2 million
The largest cut made during the meeting was the approval of eight reduction days proposed by Superintendent Marvin Williams. The proposal was based on the current 170-day calendar and includes six days that were already built into the budget, Williams said.
According to Melson, the proposal will save the board approximately $1.6 million.
"These days won't get us out of the woods, but it is a step in the right direction," Williams said.
Board member Grady McCrickard made the motion to adopt the proposal with a second coming from Susan Berry. The plan was accepted in a 4-2 vote with McCrickard, Berry, Tim Turner and Chuck Thaxton voting for. Jane Holbrooks and Tommy Sanders voted against.
The days affected under the reduction plan include:
Williams stated in a followup interview that most school districts across the state had some sort of reduction day plans.
"The changes probably will affect seat time, but we'll make any adjustments we have to to fit rules and regulations," Williams said.
Other approved cuts
During the meeting cuts were also made to the adult education program and the Inaquest drug dog program.
Board member Tim Turner made a motion to cut the adult education program during budget discussion.
"If this program was for kids, I wouldn't even consider it," Turner said.
Board member Tommy Sanders said he was in favor of the cut noting there were other choices of adult education programs available besides the one offered by the school board.
Jane Holbrooks raised concerns on whether officials within the program were even aware that it might by cut.
Williams stated the employees were aware that the program must be renewed every year, but that he did not think they were away it might be cut during the meeting.
The motion passed 4-2 with McCrickard, Sanders, Berry, and Turner voting for and Holbrooks and Dan Forsyth voting against.
Sanders made the motion to cut the Inaquest drug dog program for a savings of $10,000.
"The Polk County police already have a drug dog, and we're part of the county," Sanders said.
The motion passed 5-2 with Holbrooks, McCrickard, Sanders, Berry and Thaxton voting for, and Forsyth and Turner voting against.
Two other proposals were brought before the board then failed to pass. These were: adopting the four-day calendar, and splitting printing costs with the individual schools.
Sanders made the motion to the board adopt the four day week, 147 day calendar during the meeting.
"These are not normal times and we cannot operate like they are," Sanders said. "I think this is something we will end up dong, the question is when."
The total savings for the calendar would be $360,000.
McCrickard argued against the proposal stating it would create problems for parents to find daycare and a loss of education time for students.
"I have never supported the four day week, I don't think the lapse in seat time is worthy for the money we would be saving," McCrickard said.
Holbrooks said the students would meet the mandated education hours from the state of Georgia, even if the hours would be different.
"Me personally, I wouldn't want to work it, but we've tried everything else, we have tried the 170 day and 160 day calendars" Holbrooks said.
Holbrooks said people had came to her numerous times over the past three years asking that the four day calendar be tried.
Thaxton raised concerns that the money saved under the proposal would come from reducing employee pay to 147 days. Williams confirmed that under the calendar cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, and bus drivers would all be reduced.
The vote failed 2-4 with Holbrooks and Sanders voting for and McCrickard, Forsyth, Berry and Turner voting against.
Dorthy Welch, president of the Polk County Association of Educations was disappointed the calendar failed to pass.
"I'm not in favor of anyone being cut classified or certified, but I find it increduclous that the board was not willing to go to a four day week," Welch said during an interview.
Welch stated that most teachers were in favor of a four day week and willing to make that change.
"Teachers are willing to do whatever we can, and cuts should come as far away from the classroom as they can," Welch said.
She added that she would rather see furlough days than cuts to the local supplement since they did not harm teachers' retirements.
Board member Susan Berry made the motion to split copying and printing costs with each individual school. Thaxton seconded the motion.
Williams said the proposal would save approximately $90,000, but warned it would cost the schools an average of $700 a month from their discretionary funds. He stated he had concerns over the ability of the elementary schools to handle the additional cost.
The motion failed in a 3-4 vote with Holbrooks, Sanders and Berry voting for and McCrickard, Forsyth and Turner voting against.
Other options discussed by the board without motions included cutting the local supplement, increasing the millage rate, and cutting travel from the budget.