Superintendent estimates $4M deficit after state cuts

Published 7:09 pm Friday, May 15, 2020

Troup County School System Superintendent Brian Shumate estimates the district may have to shed an additional $4 million out of its budget in addition to cuts already made.

The Georgia state legislature has told local agencies to expect a 14 percent cut in state funding. Shumate said the school system typically gets about $67.7 million in state funding, and with the proposed cut, it would negatively impact the district by $9.5 million.

Shumate said Troup County received about $3.1 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but that will need to be spread around to the private schools in the area, meaning TCSS will receive about $2.5 million.

Starting with the $9.5 million number, and subtracting $2.5 million would bring the deficit to about $7 million. Shumate said he estimates spending about $3 million from the system’s reserves to get that number to about $4 million to trim from the budget.

He said that money could come from hiring freezes, step-raise freezes and furlough days.

“We’re going to be negatively impacted,” Shumate said. “We’re going to try to preserve classroom services as much as possible. But’s it’s really going to lean us out, and we’re not going to have much wiggle room in the coming year.”

He said he’s asked all principals to provide cost-saving measures within their buildings so a plan can be designed.

The state legislature will reconvene on June 11, and Shumate said the school system should know something around mid- to late- June. He said at that point the district will proceed with the two budget hearings required and attempt to adopt a budget on June 30, unless the state gives an extension.

Shumate said the district typically gets about $1 million a month in SPLOST receipts, but it knows those numbers will be down “substantially.”

“If receipts get cut in half for a number of months, we’re going to have to absorb that,” he said.

In April, the school system announced it would cut $2.2 million in cuts through a reduction in force policy. The policy identified about 49 positions that would be eliminated. TCSS Human Resource Officer Chip Medders said many of the employees affected by that policy have been reassigned.

The reduction in force policy wiped away an anticipated $1.8 structural budget deficit due to investments in education initiatives and leadership changes.

In November, voters in Troup County will also vote on a senior tax relief measure that would eliminate school taxes for those 62 and older with an income less than $40,000. If passed, the measure could negatively impact the school system about $1.7 million.

Summer School 

Shumate said the district planned to have an in-person summer school, but plans have evolved, and most districts are doing a virtual or hybrid summer school. He said the elementary summer school would begin June 8, and the high school will start on June 1. Shumate didn’t discuss how the summer school will be conducted on Thursday but said the details would be released soon.

“We hope to do most of them virtually but will bring kids in if we need to in very small groups,” Shumate said.

He said teachers who are working throughout the summer would work in the buildings.

As for the next school year, Shumate has assembled a task force with 34 employees from just about all areas of the district to discuss the options of restarting school next August and how it may look.

He said the district would create subcommittees around food, transportation, technology, curriculum, instructional methods and more.

“If this thing is still pressing on us in August, and we have to make those kinds of adjustments, we’ve got to see what this is going to look like as we move forward,” Shumate said.