If the Beaufort County Board of Education's proposed budget gets cut, it won't be the school board that does it -- at least not now.
At a special meeting Thursday -- called after Beaufort County Council's finance committee demanded $4 million be cut from the $192.9 million spending plan -- board members said they could not make cuts without hurting student education.
"I'm not sure I can support any of these cuts," board secretary Laura Bush said during the meeting. "I think we have presented our needs to the county and I did not see any fluff in the budget, so I don't see where we can cut it."
The board did identify several areas where cuts might be made should county council approve a budget below the $192.9 million figure.
Superintendent Jeff Moss proposed 15 areas the district might examine. The board ultimately decided on four that it felt would be the least damaging.
They include using newly available state funding for literacy coaches, decreasing transportation costs, cutting career and technical program expansion funds and discontinuing a teacher incentive program. Taken together, they would strip about $1.5 million from the budget.
The budget, certified by the school board May 22, asked council for a little more than $118 million in tax revenue.
The finance committee has said it wants to see a budget with tax revenue set at $114.8 million -- the amount the school district was supposed to receive this year before faulty projections led to a more than $4 million shortfall.
"I do believe it is our responsibility to do what we can to meet the committee's request and show we are working with them," board member Geri Kinton said. "But when we present, we need to translate the effects of these cuts so they understand what it means beyond money and a number."
"Over the last five years the board has made some tremendous cuts, and that means the big ticket items are gone unless we dip in to the classroom," Moss said. "And I do not want to dip in to the classroom."
Neither do many board members .
Board chairman Bill Evans said he hopes council realizes the board is willing to make cuts if necessary, but feels that the $4 million number is simply too high.
"We are doing this as sign of good faith that we are willing to cut, but we don't want to get in to the meat of some of the things we aren't willing to cut," he said. "If we don't get the votes and they force us to cut $4 million, then we will go back and figure it out."
Moss will present the district's budget and the list of potential cuts to council Monday for the second of three readings before the spending plan can be approved.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.
- School district must work to cut budget roughly $4 million, June 3, 2014
- County Council unsure about school budget's proposed tax hike, May 27, 2014
- School board certifies $192.9M district budget; reduces contribution to ACE, May 22, 2014
- Beaufort County schools looking at $10 million increase in next year's budget: Increases largely coming from state mandates, growing enrollment, April 15, 2014
- Faulty projections put Beaufort County schools in $4 million hole, April 5, 2014
- Proposed Beaufort County budget calls for tax hike, May 5, 2014