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By JUDY UNDERWOOD
Morgan County News Editor
The Morgan County Board of Education will meet in a special session Thursday evening to attempt to balance its budget.
County commissioners cut an additional $40,000 of the school budget Monday night but Director of Schools Mike Davis said Tuesday morning that there’s more problems than that.
The commissioners voted to only forgive the schools $110,000 of the $200,000- payment it pays the county annually on the school debt. Previously, the Budget Committee had agreed to forgive $150,000 on the payment this fiscal year but when it went before the full county commission that didn’t happen.
“Actually, we’re short $140,000 because we had to add two teachers,” Davis said Tuesday morning.
He added that he has no idea where to go now in the budget to make cuts.
“We have already cut as far as we can in the non-classroom by reducing transportation and maintenance. We may now have to look at the classroom side and that could mean positions,” Davis said.
He went on to say that he will not make cuts until he meets with the Board on Thursday evening and gets guidance.
The budget for schools does include an extra penny on the tax rate to give support staff a one-percent pay increase. Previously, the Board had agreed to add an additional one-percent one-time bonus for support staff to that pay raise.
Some county commissioners expressed their hope that the board members would not renege on their agreement to give support staff the pay increase and bonus. But budget committee member Fred Snow asked “Why shouldn’t they? We just reneged?”
Budget Committee Chairman Randy Roberts said he believes the schools were attempting to get some $39,000 for cafeteria staff raises from the county for a second time. He said the county gave it to them for that purpose and shouldn’t have to fund it again. It was Roberts’ comments that led to the reduction in the amount of debt payment by $40,000.
Davis and members of the school board maintain that is not the case. Davis said pulling that money now leaves the budget $40,000 short plus the new positions.
“We don’t have any choice but to add positions at Petros-Joyner and Central Elementary. We have to meet the State’s guidelines,” Davis said.
The Board will meet beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14 at the Morgan County Schools Central Office in a special emergency session.
They will also meet beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 18 in another special session to finalize the budget.