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Jackson County schools plan for possible cuts
Schools remain under budget
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JEFFERSON — Money woes continue for the Jackson County school system as the district remains under budget but plans for falling revenue collections.

Jackson County schools’ monthly budget report indicates that the school system has remained 3 percent under budget as of the end of January, according to Jeff Sanchez, assistant superintendent for finance.

"We’re continuing to be very frugal in the way we handle our money," Superintendent Shannon Adams told the school board at a recent meeting.

Adams noted the school system’s expenditures to date total $49.2 million while revenue collections total $54.3 million.

However, the system’s special purpose local option sales tax collections have been lower than projected for the end of 2008.

November 2008 collections totaled $353,000 compared to $503,000 from November 2007, a drop of almost 30 percent.

The numbers echo a trend that’s happening all over Georgia, Adams said.

"All this is indicative of the fact that the economy is bad," he said. "I think what’s going on here reflects what’s going on statewide."

The governor’s office released January revenue figures on Feb. 6, which note that revenues are down by 14.3 percent compared to this time last year. Adams said Rep. Tommy Benton confirmed the revenue drop in a phone conversation they had the same day the figures were released.

"He said they got January revenue reports and it was 14 percent down from last year, and the (state) shortfall went from $2.2 billion to $3 billion," Adams said. "The cuts we’ve had have been based on $2.2 billion."

The Georgia General Assembly also announced last week that they will split their session into two parts to give legislators time to react to the funds expected from Washington as a part of the federal stimulus package passed last week.

However, the split will make the budget process more difficult because school board members need to wait to see what state funding will come to Jackson County before making final decisions, Adams said.

The school board must approve its budget in July, only a few weeks after the General Assembly reconvenes in late June, he said.

The school system will also wait to issue contracts for teachers and staff members until April due to budget concerns.

"There is a strong probability that we will be required to reduce our workforce to some degree in order to meet the demands of our budget, and we want to make sure that every possible alternative has been thoroughly evaluated before we proceed with that task," Adams wrote in a system-wide e-mail.