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School budget woes to continue in 2010
Educators fear future cuts may be worse than last year
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Education A look back, ahead

Hall County schools

2009

  • Federal stimulus funding offset state budget cuts for a $5.6 million cut.
  • Finished first year for the World Language Academy, which is the district’s first charter school.
  • Opened the Da Vinci Academy, an innovative cost-efficient model for art, science and technology students.
  • Broke ground on $2.9 million Lanier Charter Career Academy addition.
  • For the first time, all 34 schools made Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind.

2010

  • Federal stimulus funding offset state budget cuts for a roughly $9 million cut.
  • Da Vinci Academy will add on eighth grade.
  • Several more charter schools coming online.
  • Lanier Charter Career Academy addition and bistro will open in August.

Source: Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield

Gainesville schools

2009

  • Federal stimulus funding offset state budget cuts for a roughly $600,000 cut.
  • Started JROTC at Gainesville High School.
  • Opened new Gainesville Middle School.
  • High school’s football and basketball teams made it to state playoffs.
  • Gainesville High named National Title I School of Distinction.

2010

  • Federal stimulus funding offset state budget cuts for a roughly $1.5 million cut.
  • Should be out of deficit by June 30.
  • Formal opening of Wood’s Mill Academy, which is the old middle school building, with more students in multiple programs.
  • Opening of Wood’s Mill High School program at the academy.
  • Fair Street IB World School preparing to move into Wood’s Mill Academy for 2011-12 school year while new building is constructed. The district has appealed to the legislature for $5.6 million in capital outlay to help fund the new school.

Source: Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer

Lanier Technical College

2009

  • Absorbed at least a 10 percent state budget cut.
  • Record enrollment with 4,099 students in fall quarter, which is a 32 percent increase over last fall.
  • Renovation and addition to Dawson County campus started.
  • Addition to Forsyth County campus started.

2010

  • Began fiscal year with 10 percent less in state funding. An additional 3 percent cut followed shortly thereafter and another 3 percent cut is anticipated this spring.
  • Addition to Forsyth County campus to be completed in spring. About a dozen more health-related programs will open at this location.

Source: Lanier Technical College President Mike Moye

Gainesville State College

2009

  • Absorbed a 12 percent state budget cut.
  • More than 8,800 students were enrolled at both campuses, which was a 17 percent growth over 2008.
  • Began offering a fifth bachelor’s degree allowing students to major in theater technology and design.
  • Opened an expanded and renovated student center in January on Oconee campus.
  • Opened an all-purpose student center in spring on the Gainesville campus.
  • Gainesville campus student parking deck completed in July.
  • Broke ground on new academic building for Gainesville campus in November.

2010

  • Absorbed about a 10 percent state budget cut so far.
  • Construction of new academic building on Gainesville campus under way.
  • Pursuing more bachelor’s degrees in education.
  • New $100 student fee implemented in spring semester.

Source: Gainesville State College President Martha Nesbitt

North Georgia College & State University

2009

  • Absorbed roughly 16 percent state budget cut between fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
  • Enrollment at nearly 6,000 students, which is a 2.8 percent increase over previous fall.
  • Started building two residence halls and a new parking deck.
  • Renovations started on four classroom and office buildings.
  • First doctoral degree in physical therapy approved.
  • Grew cadet corps to about 700 students, which is one of the school’s largest corps.
  • Expanded master’s degree programs to include history and international affairs.
  • Board of Regents held October meeting in the school’s new technology center.

2010

  • Two new residence halls opening in the fall.
  • Pursuing doctoral degree program in nursing practice.
  • Master’s degree music program starting.
  • Will continue to grow language and cultural programs.
  • New $150 student fee implemented in spring semester.

Source: North Georgia College & State University spokeswoman Kate Maine

Barring a drastic economic turnaround, state budgets cuts for public schools, technical colleges and universities in 2009 may pale in comparison to the end result of state cuts for 2010.

November state revenues fell 16.2 percent short compared to last year’s November revenues, the state Department of Revenue reported. In early December, State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said she anticipates public school districts will be cut another $39 million this spring to offset state revenue shortfalls.

The grim budget outlook threatens educator pay as K-12 and higher education leaders have already severely cut operations, travel and maintenance budgets.

Hall County schools, for example, received enough stimulus funding last year to end fiscal year 2009, which closed on June 30, with a $5.6 million state cut, according to Superintendent Will Schofield. Even with $7.1 million in stimulus funding for this fiscal year, already the district has absorbed roughly $9 million in state cuts and three teacher furlough days, he said.

About 88 percent of the district’s $211 million budget supports personnel, Schofield said.

"If you talk about major cuts, there’s pretty much nowhere else to go but personnel," he said.

Educational institutions implemented at least three furlough days this school year to comply with state requests. While many education leaders are bracing for at least three more furlough days this spring, it remains to be seen how many more unpaid days teachers and students will spend at home instead of in the classroom.

Educators say they expect Gov. Sonny Perdue to announce the state’s plan for furlough days and budget cuts in January.

Despite deeper cuts, the mantra continues to be "Do more with Georgia’s growing student population with less," especially for technical colleges.

Lanier Technical College President Mike Moye said the college had 4,099 students this fall and experienced a 32 percent enrollment growth compared to last year.

"During the fiscal year of July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, will have seen our largest ever budget cut and our largest ever enrollment," he said.

Although the technical college has two new facilities under construction on its Dawson and Forsyth campuses to help accommodate the enrollment growth, staffing the new buildings may prove problematic.

"Unfortunately, we may find ourselves in a ‘Catch-22’ situation," Moye said. "We have money to complete the buildings, we have money to purchase state of the art equipment for the occupations being taught, but we’re in a real quandary about the money needed to hire personnel for these new programs.

"Like everyone else," he said, "we will watch the economy and the budget writers in the General Assembly as they attempt to stretch the tax dollar for the entire state."

Schofield said it is time for educators to kick creativity into high gear as they try to maintain programs and improve educational opportunities for students with less money.

"I just think there are surprises around every corner in the era that we live in and I think we need to just frame them positively ... to make monumental leaps forward," he said.

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