Teacher layoffs, district budget discussed at school board meeti - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Teacher layoffs, district budget discussed at school board meeting

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MUSCOGEE COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -

The Muscogee County School Board approved a budget on June 16 to cover the next twelve months of the district's operation. 

The Superintendent announced that 42 teachers will now be laid off strictly due to financial concerns, down from 50. Every board member except John Wells approved of the district's overall budget plan. Wells reiterated his desire to take money out of the reserve fund and restore jobs to that remaining number. 

"I'm not for eliminating teachers. I still think we have a fat bank account. I think we could have saved those teachers and put them in as graduation coaches in our high schools and improve the graduation rate," said Wells.

Patricia Hugley-Green voted for the budget and calls the plan pitched by Wells a temporary fix.

"If we deplete our reserve, we're going to be right back here again next year, when we have to make those same hard decisions, but we're not going to have the reserve fund there to rescue us," said Hugley-Green.

Wells is facing a run-off election for his seat on the board in July against John F. Thomas, who was present at the meeting. Thomas says Wells' opposition to the budget is just a political charade.

"You can rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic as much as you want to, the ship's still going down, alright? He's been the finance chairman for seventeen or eighteen years now.  The school board finances are not, as he likes to say, in great shape," said Thomas.

In addition to talk about the budget, three new principals were also named at the meeting. Craig Fitts will become principal of Double Churches Middle School, Carla Henry will be principal of J. D. Davis Elementary, and Tujuana Wiggins was named principal of Fox Elementary School.

A group called Georgia Appleseed was at the meeting to present a close to $20,000 donation to the district for the purpose of creating a program that will monitor behavior problems of students and help administrators make data-based decisions regarding how those situations are handled. That includes notifying parents by text message if their child is having a problem at school.

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