The school system employs an average of 1,100 people, which includes nutritional workers and auxiliary staff.
Alan Melson, business manager, said personnel accounts for about 86 percent of the school system’s total budget.
To date, the local system has received and absorbed a 2 percent or about $1.7 million in state cuts.
In addition, Governor Sonny Perdue has announced an additional 3 percent cut to Quality Basic Education (QBE) funds.
There is no fat in the budget, according to Superintendent Marvin Williams, who said the school board must find a way to absorb the additional $1.2 million in state cuts.
“The majority of our budget is personnel,” he said, “so we have looked at ways to cut costs without impacting jobs. The board has spent many hours trying to decide what things could be cut without affecting the education of the children.”
Williams said board members have accepted the task of eliminating any waste within the system.
Therefore, action has been taken to make cuts to eliminate any item not deemed necessary to the educational process.
This year, every child will have access to a textbook but they may not necessarily have one to take home. If they need one, the teacher will work it out, according to Williams.
“When I was in school, the teacher went by the textbook,” he said. “The state has now shifted to a Standards Based Education and this is no longer necessary. There are so many more resources that an educator can use in the classroom.”
Another example of utilizing all resources is transferring a classroom teacher from a school with a low number of students in a grade level to one where there is an overflow of kids.
Williams said he is concerned not only about the local system absorbing current state budget cuts but those anticipated in 2010.
He considers Polk’s school system fortunate that no major layoffs have had to be made due to state cuts. However, he expressed the thought that this may not be possible if more are announced next year.
“It is something that no one wants but we will have to look at the people we employ,” Williams said. “I am not sure about next year's budget and cuts that we must make.”
He said this could include such items as music and art, which are offered in all of the schools. “We want to continue to offer these to our students, but we must look at these things and make decisions that have to be made.”
Priorities have to be set, he explained, and state rules require a classroom teacher for core subjects such as science, reading, math, social studies and connections.
Williams doesn’t believe budget decisions will improve through next term and admits school officials are walking a fine line.
Although Governor Sonny Perdue has announced cuts to education, Williams said he understands that there is a limited amount of funds to spread across Georgia. “We are fortunate he (Perdue) did not go after education in the first round of budget slashing. I think our Governor knows how important education is to the future of our children.”