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County schools face possible job cuts

by Larry S. Chowning

In response to a 5% budget cut, Middlesex School Superintendent Rusty Fairheart has recommended the elimination of three non-core teaching positions, two support positions, and a central office administrator and support person.

The 5% equates to $352,000 in school operating funds that must be cut from the proposed upcoming 2009-10 (FY10) budget.

To make up for declining county revenues, county administrator Charles Culley informed Fairheart several weeks ago the school proposal would be cut 5%. 

Culley also reported the county will not provide $100,000 in local money for the school system’s textbook fund, as originally proposed. The textbook funding is not mandated by the state in FY10.

Eliminating the three non-core positions will save the school system $150,000, and the two support positions will save $60,000. The elimination of a central office administrator and support person will save $50,000.

Fairheart did not say what specific positions he proposes to cut.

Fairheart also said he plans to shift one special education department salary from local to federal, and use stimulus funds from the federal government to cover the change.

The school superintendent also recommended cutting the following: a cafeteria monitor at Middlesex Elementary School (MES) to save $2,906; band equipment, school furniture and an athletic stipend from St. Clare Walker Middle School (SCW) to save $14,132; and athletic uniforms, media center furniture and band instruments from Middlesex High School (MHS) to save $22,504. These cuts total $39,542.

He also recommended saving $29,104 by eliminating local funding of the summer school program in all of the schools.

Fairheart does plan to continue the summer school program at MES by using stimulus funds instead of local funds. The summer school programs at MHS and SCW would be eliminated completely.

The school board must vote on Fairheart’s proposed cuts. Board members did not comment on the issue at its meeting Monday night.

Fairheart has now proposed $376,000 in cuts out of the proposed school budget—$24,000 more than necessary. “I want to allow the school board to decide what they want to take out, and what they don’t,” he said. “I left the difference between $376,000 and $352,000 for them to work with.”

A public hearing on the county’s proposed FY10 budget is set for April 21 in Saluda.

posted 04.08.2009

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