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Jackson school officials look to trim $2 million deficit
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JEFFERSON — The Jackson County School System is implementing an energy management plan and looking at other measures to tackle its $2 million deficit.

Jeff Sanchez, assistant superintendent for finance, gave the board an updated look at the system’s finances, which include three furlough days and a 3 percent cut to education funding that Gov. Sonny Perdue approved during the summer.

And school officials think the state may approve more furlough days this school year to save money.

“I think the furloughs are more of a certainty right now. That’s not to say there won’t be another QBE cut, but I think the furloughs are a foregone conclusion,” Superintendent Shannon Adams said at the meeting earlier this month.

Board Chairwoman Kathy Wilbanks agreed, noting possible savings from more furlough days could be factored into the budget to get it closer to becoming the balanced budget required by state law.

Sanchez said the budget committee is looking at several places to save money, including the reductions made to the transportation budget thanks to lower gas prices.

“Now diesel fuel is $2.08 a gallon and unleaded it’s $2.12 a gallon, so I felt like we could reduce the transportation fuel,” he said. “I took a close look at heating and cooling for schools ... and thought we can reduce that based on last
year’s numbers.”

This coincides with the school system’s new energy management plan, which the board discussed at last week’s meeting.

“It is some down to earth, basic, common sense things like turning off lights in classrooms,” Adams explained. “The Georgia Power (public relations) representative told us that ... if you will turn a computer off completely, you’ll save $70 a year off that computer’s energy.”

But the school system will have to take a hard look at its finances to find ways to overcome the $2 million shortfall.

“It is getting to be kind of difficult now because if we talk about reducing programs like fine arts, we still have to have those people there to make up the schedules,” Sanchez said.

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