The Beaufort County Board of Education will meet today to begin making cuts to next school year's operating budget.
Chairman Fred Washington Jr. said he hopes the board identifies $3 million to $4 million in reductions to help close the $6.8 million shortfall district officials project for the 2011-12 budget.
District administration gave the board an overview of the district's financial situation in January, along with a list of more than 20 cuts to consider. Board members then held meetings with school improvement councils, parents, teachers and other school supporters over the past several weeks to explain budgeting and the challenges the district faces.
The board won't recommend a final operating budget to Beaufort County Council until later this spring, but Washington said identifying cuts now will allow the board to avoid rushing decisions later. He said it is particularly important to give early notice if the board is forced to cut jobs.
At least one previously considered cost-saving measure won't be part of today's discussion. A vote Tuesday by the board ended discussions about closing a public school -- something district staff projected could save $700,000 to $900,000.
Remaining options on the list of considerations from district administration total more than $10 million in savings. They are: Cutting about $1.4 million in funding for extracurricular activities. That would include reducing stipends to coaches or other activity sponsors; reducing allocations for athletic equipment; eliminating district athletic insurance; reducing allocations for transportation; and reductions to band, strings and chorus programs. Increasing class sizes by an average of one student, which would allow the district to cut teaching positions. For grades kindergarten through eight, that would save about $1.3 million. It would save $819,000 at the high school level. Increasing the amount employees pay toward their health insurance to save about $1.2 million. Reducing from 28 to 12 the number of school math and science instructional coaches to save about $1.1 million. Reducing from 30 to 16 the number of school literacy instructional coaches to save about $1.1 million. Eliminating some pre-kindergarten teaching positions to save $931,889. Eliminating positions for pre-kindergarten assistants would save an additional $396,932. Ending supplements to some programs funded through special-revenue accounts to save $630,000. Reducing from 10 to four the number of district-office coordinator positions to save $504,270. Eliminating hall monitor positions to save $394,722. Eliminating bonuses paid to National Board Certified Teachers to save $355,800. Reducing school-supply budgets by 10 percent to save $321,960. Reducing the number of school police officers by five to save $295,350. Reducing by six the number of career development facilitators to save $257,000. Reducing by eight the number of days teacher assistants work, to save $235,200. Eliminating funding for a parenting program to save $135,574. Freezing the annual pay increases some administrators receive for additional years of experience or degrees earned, to save about $100,000. Eliminating a teaching position from the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence to save $84,442. Eliminating stipends for mentors in the Assisting, Developing and Evaluating Professional Teaching program to save $70,500. Eliminating nurse assistant positions to save $27,494.