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McKenzie makes strong showing at work session

Citizens of McKenzie donned their school colors and brought their signs to the Butler County Board of Education work session Thursday night in an effort to persuade the Board to keep their community school open.

An estimated crowd of more than 1,000 people crowded into the R.L. Austin Gymnasium on the Georgiana School campus to hear the options presented for finding the funds to make up the deficit currently found in the General Fund.

The District ended FY10 with $1,126,854 in the fund, $609,521 less than the one month’s operating balance required by the State Department of Education.

The BOE is now “looking under every rock,” said president Linda Hamilton, to find ways to come up with those needed funds in order to send the State Department concrete plans for making up the deficit by April 15.

Possible solutions that were presented including use of bus hubs in Greenville to reduce transportation costs; an elimination of Central Office positions; a 50 to 75 percent reduction of support staff positions and energy cost reduction plan.  Also brought before the Board during the session including restructuring long-term debt, use of PSCA Funds for debt services and a reduction in athletic supplements.

But it was the final option—the consolidation of Georgiana and McKenzie Schools—that brought the greatest response from the audience, with an outcry of “no” resounding in the gymnasium. Three individuals, including McKenzie principal Randy Williams, spoke on behalf of keeping the school open, with Williams assuring the Board the faculty, students and parents were all willing to make any sacrifices to do whatever it takes to keep their community’s school.

Hamilton said the various options presented were just some of the possible solutions to their financial crisis the BOE will be considering in the coming days. For more details on Thursday’s work session and board meeting, look in the Saturday edition of The Greenville Advocate.