Rising costs and state cuts affect MCSD 2013 budget - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Rising costs and state cuts affect MCSD 2013 budget


The Muscogee County School Board has been dealing with rising costs and state cuts for years and the 2013 school year will be no different.

"We saw cuts; we lost some of our equalization money.  We also saw dramatic increases in some of our costs, such as our retirement system costs and our health insurance costs," Muscogee County Board Chairman Cathy Williams said.

 Williams says the cost increases equaled about $13 million, factor in the decreases in state funding and you're left with the task of balancing the nearly $273 million general budget.

"It was a difficult budget cycle but the administration was able to bring us a balanced budget," said Williams.

Unfortunately there will be five furlough days in the upcoming school year.  But, only one of those days will affect students.

"Four of the days are from the teachers, there's only one school day was taken.  So, the students will have only one day out," said Williams.

News Leader 9 spoke with Muscogee County Chief Financial Officer Sharon Adams, she says the systems insurance premium costs have increased to an extra 6.5 million a year.  Employees will not have to pay more.

Retirement plans have also increased costing the system an extra $2 million a year. Employees will pay 6% of their salary towards retirement, opposed to the 5.53% they are paying now.

"We had a balanced budget without the furlough days until we got hit at the end with the health insurance premiums."

In a 7 to 2 vote, the board also approved to offer former Superintendent John Phillips the position as Interim Superintendent beginning August 1.  Although Williams voted against reinstating Phillips, she seems to have had a change of heart.

"I think he'll be a fine Interim Superintendent.  He served this district in the past in that capacity and I know he'll do a good job again" Williams said.

Now salary negotiations will begin.

"All we did last night was authorizing our attorney to begin negotiations with Doctor Phillips.  The next step would be then to vote on that contract."

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