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Schools to cut vacant jobs

First Posted: 2:50 pm - June 17th, 2015

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Randy Garner | The Cheraw Chronicle The Chesterfield County School Board passed a $53 million budget by a vote of 5-4. Superintendent Dr. Harrison Goodwin said the budget includes a number of eliminated positions.

CHESTERFIELD — School board members decided to cut nearly a dozen vacant positions and take a half-million dollars out of the district’s “savings account” to balance a nearly $53.2 million budget during a special meeting Monday.

Following a brief closed session, the Chesterfield County School Board voted 5-4 to approve the $53,196,068 spending plan for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“The new budget is going to represent a 1.20 percent increase over last year’s budget,” said Chesterfield County School District Superintendent Dr. Harrison Goodwin. “It’s a lot of money no matter how you look at it.”

Goodwin said the majority of funds go toward personnel and fringe benefits.

“Ninety percent of our budget is spent on salary and fringe,” he said. “If you look at it, the only real way to cut money out of the budget is to cut positions.”

NO LAYOFFS PLANNED

The board decided to cut a number of jobs as well as institute other cuts to save $647,000.

In a plan Goodwin said dates back to September 2014, the school board cut the equivalent of 11 teaching positions throughout the county. Goodwin said these positions were cut through attrition — positions not being filled, rather than layoffs.

“It’s really not any particular grade or school; it’s really spread out all over the county,” said Goodwin. “That was through attrition. We did not have to do any reduction. We didn’t have to send anybody home. This is part of a plan that we put in place last September to absorb these positions. This wasn’t something we just started doing it at the last minute in April or May, we planned to do this all the way back to September.

“We’ve moved a good many of those over, and that’s another way we were able to save money on the general fund. The general fund is what our local taxpayers pay for.”

REDUCING EXPENSES

The district also instituted a tax increase of 1.62 percent, which Goodwin said will yield $200,000 in revenue.

Goodwin said these measures on their own were not enough to put the budget back into balance.

“We’re going to use $500,000 in fund balance,” he said. “In other words, we’re going to reach into the savings account and use $500,000.”

Goodwin said the district has been working on streamlining its expenses for more than a year.

“We are beginning to see some of the benefits from making those reductions,” he said.“We’ve been reducing personnel, we’ve been shifting expenditures out of the general fund and we’ve moved expenditures out of it into some of our federal programs, That’s more prescribed money, but here are ways to move those expenditures over” he said.

School officials have been working to fill a $1.3 million budget shortfall for the past week.

Reach reporter Randy Garner at 843-537-5261 and follow him on Twitter @CherawChronicle.

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