SUWANEE -- Gwinnett County's school district plans to eliminate some positions, increase class sizes and require two furlough days for most employees as it struggles with a budget shortfall.
Teachers from around the county voiced concerns to board members Thursday about looming cuts to the FY2013 budget and how the numbers might affect schools.
Board members spoke with some bleakness to the Teachers' Advisory Council during the meeting about a projected budget shortfall.
"I wish we had better news on the budgetary front," said School Board Member Carol Boyce. "Unfortunately, we don't."
Daniel Seckinger referenced a projected $89 million shortfall stemming chiefly from a continued decline in local tax revenue and the end of federal stimulus dollars used to balance the FY2012 budget.
Seckinger said that funding cuts at the district level could affect the central office as well as individual schools.
"I encourage folks to understand that it's all taking place countywide," Seckinger said. "We've got our backs up against it."
Added Seckinger: "I think we're at the end of our rope as far as doing more with less."
Officials with Gwinnett County Public Schools released a document Thursday stating that the district planned to address the shortfall by reducing central office department budgets by 2.5 percent for $1.6 million in savings; eliminating 54 vacant central office positions for a savings of $2.7 million; earning of $21.6 million in additional state revenue; and reduction of the district's contribution to the Gwinnett Retirement System for a savings of $19 million.
In addition, $43 million in savings could come from increasing class sizes by two students districtwide; continuing two furlough days for all employees except bus drivers and school nutrition staff; releasing of all employees hired after the beginning of the school year and retired employees who are working part time; as well as leaving vacant any district-level positions that currently are unfilled or that become vacant during the year.
The district does not plan to eliminate instructional programs, hike the millage rate, add additional furlough days, or reduce salaries or instructional time.
The budget is slated to be approved in mid-May, according to district spokesman Jorge Quintana.
Despite the news, Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost said the district remains in the good graces of financial agencies Standard and Poor's and Moody's as one of only 16 districts nationwide with a AAA bond rating.
In addition, Cost said the district has about $100,000,000 in reserves, "which keeps us afloat."