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Posted: May 18, 2012 8:19 a.m.

UPDATE: $124.8M school budget adopted, calendar cut 3 days

Outsourcing custodial services still on the table

 

UPDATE: Rockdale County school board voted unanimously Thursday to adopt a tentative $124.8 million budget for 2012-2013, eliminating three calendar days from the teacher work schedule.

The budget was approved under the condition that Rockdale County Public Schools would retain custodial services, which was one of two options that the board could weigh. Retaining the services would reduce the fund budget by $2.1 million. That would cost about $600,000 more than outsourcing custodial services.

The other option was to outsource the custodial services, which would reduce the fund balance by $1.5 million.

Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis created the second option after 11 custodians decided to end their employment, which lowered the custodial staff total and brought $400,000 in savings back to the fund. Already, eight custodians have retired and three have resigned.

He said that originally the custodial department was overstaffed, but with hopes of eliminating employees through attrition, those numbers would drop, thus allowing the school system to maintain control of janitorial services.

“One of things that was consistent in all our reports was that we were overstaffed. So with attrition and people already saying they’re leaving we decided to come up with option two,” Davis said.

According to the projected numbers, outsourcing custodial services would create an end-of-fund balance of $8.679 million, or 6.95 percent of the general fund budget. Option two, keeping the custodial services in-house, would create an end-of-fund balance of $8.079 million, or 6.44 percent of the budget.

Davis said the goal is to stay above a 5 percent floor with the fund balance and the end of the fiscal year.

He stated earlier in the meeting that he did not foresee a millage rate increase, but that total revenues of $123.34 million were $4.7 million less in local taxes due to significant decreasing property taxes, including an 8 percent decrease in the local tax digest.

But because of the unpredictable nature of the budget, between now and the next budget vote additional cuts may still occur.

Davis also noted the board can choose the outsourcing option at any time once his office finalizes which businesses would best fulfill the contract.

Currently, Davis received proposals from eight companies and looks to reduce that number down to two or three before bringing the proposals to the Internal Budget Committee.

During the course of the meeting, board member Brad Smith thought it would be feasible to adopt the first option of outsourcing the janitorial services, and if the board wanted to, return at a later date to change their minds if it turned out that using a private company wasn’t the most fiscal choice.

That idea garnered a split vote from the board, with Smith, Jean Yontz and Katrina Young in favor and Don McKinney, Wales Barksdale and Jim McBrayer opposed. Board member Darlene Hotchkiss was not present at the meeting.

After much deliberation, the board unanimously agreed on the second option of retaining custodial services, with the understanding that they could still change their mind at any time once the outcome of the proposal process was determined.

Ultimately, the board wants to see answers to questions on whether the business would offer full time employment, if they would offer comparable cleaning services and if they successfully passed both their company-approved and Rockdale County Public Schools safety standards.

Smith noted that he spoke to Davis about community concerns in regards to outside employees working on school premises and was reassured that “these employees would have to meet their own company’s security and background investigations and ours.”

 Smith continued, “If they didn’t pass ours they couldn’t come into the schools.”

The budget includes the modified calendar for 2012-2013, which changes the date for the last day of school and eliminates three planning days from the teacher work schedule.

In the original calendar adopted Feb. 16, the last day of school fell on Friday, May, 24, 2013. The revised calendar pushes that date back to Thursday May 23, 2013 and makes Friday a scheduled planning day for teachers and staff.

November 6, which was scheduled to be a planning day, has been switched to a full student/teacher holiday. And March 15 will no longer be a staff planning day or an off day for students. That has been changed to a regular school day.

The two planning days on May 28 and 29 were eliminated as well, making Friday, May 24, the last day for staff and students just before Memorial Day.

All total, three days were removed and one planning day was reshuffled to the end of the year instead of the fall semester. Students also lose an off day in the spring.

Other significant items approved during the meeting include:

·         Receiving technical assistance from the Georgia Department of Education Facilities Section to help develop the 2017 five year facilities plan

·         Adopting the five-year strategic plan

·         Increasing the meal price at elementary schools by $.15 from $1.75 to $1.90.

·         Permit allowing Church In The Now to use Salem High School to hold Sunday services throughout June and July, on condition of having RCPS employees on site to manage facilities

·         Approve 746 certified teacher allotments, as well as additional English Language Learner and special education teacher allotments for the 2012-2013 school year

·         Approve a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Division for the FY 2009 Congestive Mitigation and Air Quality Georgia Diesel Retrofit Program

The board will reconvene on June 14 for a work session, followed by a June 21 regular session. The board must adopt the final budget before the June 30 deadline.

 

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IN BRIEF: Rockdale County Board of Education unanimously adopted the tentative budget for 2012-2013 at Thursday’s regular session. The budget, estimated at $124.8 million, eliminates three approved calendar days from the teacher work schedule.
The budget was approved under the condition that RCPS would retain custodial services, which was one of two options that the board could weigh. Retaining the services would reduce the fund budget by $2.1 million.

The other option was to outsource the custodial services, which would reduce the fund balance by $1.5 million. That would pull $600,000 more out of the general fund balance than keeping custodians.

Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis noted that because the budget is tentative, the board can choose the outsourcing option at any time once his office finishes finalizing which businesses would best fulfill the contract.

Currently, Davis received proposals from eight companies and look to reduce the number down to two or three before bringing the proposals to the Internal Budget Committee.

Other significant items approved during the meeting include:

• Receiving technical assistance from the Georgia Department of Education Facilities Section to help develop the 2017 five year facilities plan
• Adopting the five-year strategic plan
• Increasing the meal price at elementary schools by $.15 from $1.75 to $1.90.
• Permit Church In The Now to use Salem High School to hold Sunday services throughout June and July, on condition of having RCPS employees on site to manage facilities
• Approve 746 certified teacher allotments, as well as additional English Language Learner and special education teacher allotments for the 2012-2013 school year
• Approve a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Division for the FY 2009 Congestive Mitigation and Air Quality Georgia Diesel Retrofit Program

Check back to www.rockdalenews.com later for the full story.

 

 

 

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