The Bibb County school board needs to save around $18 million dollars in their budget to make up for rising healthcare costs and drops in state and federal funding.
Tuesday night, board members heard a list of scenarios designed to make up for that shortfall, including five furlough days for teachers and many other staff members, adjusting contract lengths, and increasing class sizes.
The district cabinet also proposed realigning vice principal and school counselor positions, cutting the Mandarin Chinese program, and increasing the millage rate.
The board says it's too late to consolidate schools, but they did hear a plan to kickstart that process next year. Barden and Burghard elementary schools would combine with pre-K through second graders in one building and third through fifth graders in the other. The district cabinet says both schools are located close to one another, one principal and vice principal could oversee both. They proposed the same idea for King-Danforth and Jones schools.
Acting superintendent Susanne Griffin-Ziebart says, even with these and other options, a number of job cuts are still likely, but some board members like Jason Downey say they would like to explore other scenarios to avoid a high number of layoffs.
Downey says, "There are very few cuts at the central office. There also aren't enough cuts, I don't think, at the Welcome Center. I was excited to see Mandarin Chinese cut. One of the things we brought up are the programs that are going to be cut, and I know that everything other than salary, travel expenses, and all that is only 11 percent of the budget, but when you've got programs that cost a quarter of a million dollars, half a million dollars that come out of the general fund, those are things that we can take a look at."
The school board has several meetings scheduled to revisit their options. The next one is April 25th.
Any job cuts are required to be done by May 15th.