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Douthitt taking ‘hard look at tough decisions’

Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt has been losing a lot of sleep lately.

That’s due in large part to the school district’s budget woes.

“Finances have been keeping me up a lot lately,” Douthitt told the Rotary Club on Thursday.

A major cause of Douthitt’s sleepless nights is the fact that the school district closed the 2010 fiscal year with $1,126,854 in the General Fund. That’s $609,521 less than the one-month operating balance required by the State Department of Education.

“We’re not dealing with a crisis that no other school district is dealing with, except that maybe with us being a smaller school district the impact is felt a little more,” he said. “… Because of proration we’re having to take a hard look at some tough decisions.”

One of the things Douthitt and the Butler County Board of Education are taking a hard look at is the possibility of McKenzie School being closed and consolidated with Georgiana School. The move would save $151,591.44 a year.

On Thursday, Douthitt said he would hate to be forced to close any school in the district.

“I love McKenzie School,” he said. “I’ve been there more than I’ve been to any other school in the district. It reminds me of my school. I don’t want to have to close McKenzie. I don’t want to close anyone’s school, but the fact is that if we are going to remain solvent, we must look at the possibility of closing and consolidating schools.”

If the BOE elects to close McKenzie School, the closure would take effect immediately.

“The closure would be effective for the upcoming school year,” Douthitt said.