Tough decisions may lie ahead for BOE

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Proration: will it or won’t it rear its head again in Alabama? Earlier this month, David Perry, Alabama’s new finance director, said he could not predict yet whether cuts in budgeted spending will be needed for the state Education Trust Fund this fiscal year.  Some state officials have estimated across-the-board cuts will be required to make budgeted spending match available revenues this fiscal year, which started Oct. 1.

With already tight budgets and the possibility of proration for a third straight year in the state, the Butler County Schools District is “putting everything on the table for consideration” in terms of cuts in order to keep the system afloat as they watch and wait for any additional news regarding proration, said Superintendent Darren Douthitt.

“We are already at a point where some things can’t be cut.  For example, we already have no monies allotted for textbooks or instructional supplies. You cannot cut anything from zero,” Douthitt said.

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The superintendent said tough decisions loom ahead for the Butler County Board of Education, as they do for school systems across the state.

“I tell you what I am really bothered about: the thought that some new, very enthusiastic and hard-working teachers will be looking for jobs. We need those people, they are the future of our schools,” Douthitt said.

He said a rise in the teacher-student ratio is likely, and while it wouldn’t be drastic, “we don’t want to see that happen at all.”

It’s not all gloom and doom on the educational horizon, however, the superintendent says.

Several area businesses had already reached out to the local district and asked how they could help the schools during this financial crisis.

“We’ve also had some businesses bring supplies to us directly, which has really helped,” Douthitt said.

In south Butler County, the newly organized Georgiana Civitan Action Club hosted a drive and collected several hundred dollars in cash donations and teacher and student supplies for Georgiana School.

“It’s great to have this kind of community support and we can use all of it we can get. Everything we receive comes in handy,” Douthitt said.

“And I have to say I am proud of our teachers. They have somehow found a way to make it happen. But next year, it is going to be even more difficult.”

The superintendent stressed his desire for Butler County citizens to understand the financial climate may necessitate some painful cuts in the system.

“We have to keep logic at the forefront and not our own selfish desires,” Douthitt said.

The superintendent said he was also heartened by the words of the governor at the A+ College Ready Program Celebration held at Greenville High School on Tuesday morning.

“I was struck with how very sincere he seems in genuinely wanting to do whatever he can to help our schools-to do the right thing,” Douthitt said, adding he had spoken with State Senator Bryan Taylor, who also seemed very willing to do what he could to help the district.

“Representative Charles Newton and Senator Taylor have already helped us with securing monies for school maintenance. The fact is, everybody has to work together.”