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Budget spares most of jobs
BOE pleased with financial outlook
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Forsyth County News
Other business

Also Thursday, Forsyth County's school board:

• Opened public comment on whether to allow nonresidents to attend the iAchieve Virtual Academy program. The board will decide the matter June 17. As it stands, students from another county can’t participate in any Forsyth classes. The proposal would make an exception, providing nonresidents pay tuition and only take iAchieve classes.  

• Considered a $330,000 annual contract with Aventa Learning to provide digital content and courses for the academy, as well as learning resources for all secondary classrooms beginning in August. The cost equates to about $1,100 per full-time student and the contract requires that at least 300 full-time students attend the academy.

• Approved changes to the 2010-11 calendar. At 178 school days, bus drivers, monitors, food service assistants and nurses will work two fewer days. Instructional technology specialists will have five fewer days.

-- Jennifer Sami

Nearby school systems are slashing hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars from next year’s budget.

But at first glance, Forsyth County school system's budget for 2010-11 reflects about a 2 percent reduction from the previous year.

Board of Education Chairwoman Ann Crow credited the minimal reduction to conservative spending and foresight by Superintendent Buster Evans and
Chief Financial Officer Dan Jones.

“They were seeing what was coming down the pipe and they started making cuts back then and that certainly put us in a better position now,” Crow said. “This county’s [school] board has always been conservative in its spending.”

The proposed $258.8 million budget, which the board reviewed Thursday, reflects about $5.5 million in cuts.

Among them are about 62 positions, including about 17 paraprofessionals and 42 teachers. The entire elementary school foreign language program is being eliminated.

But Candy Norton, the district's chief human resources officer, said several employees have said they were retiring or leaving. The vacancies could be filled by educators who would otherwise lose their spot.

Forsyth is tightening its budget largely due to a decline in local revenue.

The county’s tax digest is expected to fall about 4.14 percent, officials said, which translates to about $5.6 million less for the school district.
At the same time, the county is expected to add some 1,200 new students.

With the exception of student services and transportation, most departments have had their proposed budgets cut.

Teachers who return next year will take three furlough days, which will save about $3.3 million.

Reductions in janitorial supplies, media center books, lawn maintenance and trailer rentals have been made, Jones said, though “we don’t think they’re way out of line.”

If the state further reduces its funding, however, he said officials will "have to go back and address this budget.”

Crow said the staff “did a phenomenal job of pulling things together so we wouldn’t have to have an increase in our millage rate.”