The Bulloch County Board of Education took the first step to closing a $4 million shortfall in its budget Thursday, adopting a financial plan that saves more than $2 million in the next fiscal year.
Board members unanimously approved the cost-cutting budget during an evening meeting at the William James Educational Complex.
Measures built into the $67.7 million spending plan that reduce costs include:
Implementing five furlough days for next school year, and years to come, for all staff, saving $1.7 million;
Eliminating the K-5 assistant superintendent and administrative assistant positions, consolidating their duties with staff in the 6-12 department, to save $157,000;
Eliminating the employer-paid $10,000 life insurance policy for all employees and shifting the total cost of dental insurance to employees, for $77,000 in savings; and
Reducing department budgets by an average of 8 percent from their original proposed amounts, for $778,000 in savings.
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said the cuts are an unfortunate necessity but will not compromise the education and services delivered to students.
“We are all agreed that we cannot put the finances ahead of the needs of student achievement,” Wilson said. “But we do need a responsible, accountable model in place while still putting the education of students at the forefront.”
The reductions still leave Bulloch County with a shortfall of $1.7 million for 2013 and $900,000 for 2014. But the school system carries a $17.8 million fund balance -- reserves -- which would be used to close the gaps.
In other business Thursday, the board discussed plans to carry out a $421,687 replacement of a septic system — which is no longer able to meet Environmental Protection Division regulations — at William James Middle School. Wilson also proposed two contracts for additional professional development courses for teachers.
Both items will be eligible for approval during the board’s next scheduled meeting, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.