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Another cost-saving move

The cuts just keep on coming.

Two hearings are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday to allow for public comment on the school board’s decision to not provide the annual supplement bonuses to certified employees.

The supplements, traditionally given out to system employees in January, would be an additional expense of $250,000 in the BOE budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

Supplements are broken down based on post-secondary degrees. Those with bachelors degrees would receive a $950 supplement; $1,050 for masters; $1,150 for specialists; and $1,250 for doctorates.

Letters of explanation were sent to educators and advertisements were published in this edition of the Sylvania Telephone and the April 16 issue.

The board has set hearings at 5 p.m. April 27 and at 7 p.m. April 28 at the county office at

382 Halcyondale Road
about the proposal not to pay local supplements to certified, or faculty, personnel for the 2009-2010 school years.

“The proposal is necessitated by the increasing effect of declining student enrollment upon the local budget and substantial reductions in state revenue for school operations for 2009-2010,” according the advertisement published in the Telephone.

Because of the school board’s multiple budget cuts and the proposed halt on the supplements officials say there is a projected $354,000 revenue over expenditures total after the state legislature released its budget. Gov. Sonny Perdue, as of press time, had not signed the budget, making it law.

The agenda will consist of an introductory explanation of the proposal and a time for public participation regarding the proposal. Affected employees and the general public are invited to attend the hearing and be heard with regard to the proposal.

Action will not be taken at the hearings, but the board will meet in called session after the Tuesday evening public hearing at 7:30 to consider proposal adoption.

If the board also had opted to nix the supplements for non-certified employees like clerks and bus drivers – a $350 bonus, the total would have been $330,000, which is approximately the amount of a mill. The school system received $770,000 in federal stimulus dollars.

Legally, the school board was not required to hold public hearings. The law states that supplements cannot be strickened from the budget if the state legislature approved pay increases for teachers. During this recent legislative session, a raise was not given.

The local board members chose to approve the hearing as a sign of good faith upon the advice of an independent advisory board not connected with the school system, and to avoid the possibility – although minute – the legislature may approve pay increases in its fall legislative session.

“There is no way, needless to say, to know what the legislature will do,” said Vanderver Pool, the board’s attorney from Statesboro.

The board discussed retooling or removing the supplement policy from the board bylaws. Any such change cannot be voted upon until after the public hearings. A called board meeting is scheduled for immediately after the second hearing.

School board chairman Lindy Sheppard asked if the policy could be taken out.

“I am all for paying it, if we can afford it,” Sheppard said.

It is justifiable to reward teachers for their work, but finances are tight, he said.