Douthitt: School consolidation not being considered by BOE

Published 4:09 pm Friday, September 14, 2012

With the Butler County School System facing a potential budget shortfall in 2013, school officials are once again looking for ways to cut costs.

Cost cutting has been something every school system in the state has experienced since proration went into effect in 2009, and the Butler County School System witnessed that firsthand in 2010 when a $609,521 budget shortfall forced administrators to explore a number of ways to trim costs, including the possibility of closing and consolidating McKenzie School with Georgiana School.

McKenzie was able to stay open thanks to financial assistance from the City of Greenville, the Butler County Commission and Rep. Charles Newton.

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Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt is hoping he doesn’t have to face that option again.

“We’ll be back in the mode of cost cutting,” Douthitt said. “We haven’t come out of the mode. (We’ll be) turning out lights. I have been doing that daily and turning off air conditioning daily since day one. We’ll reemphasize that need for cost cutting. We have been doing that all along.”

Chief Financial Officer Brandi Autrey introduced the proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year at meetings held on Sept. 6 and Thursday to inform the community and board what was to be expected.

According to the projected ending fund balance for the 2013 fiscal year, the Butler County School System will end the year with $1,250,262. That total is approximately $500,000 less than the one-month operating balance of $1.68 million required by the State Department of Education.

“We’re short $250,000 in transportation, we’re short half a million for the (2007) bond debt and there was a reduction of the Foundation Program, which means we will not end with a one-month operating balance, and that means we’ll have to do the plan,” Autrey said.

Douthitt confirmed that every drastic cut that could be made has been made, but said working with the system as a whole will hopefully solve the problem.

“We have to remain vigilant on that task of keeping on the consciousness of our employees and making sure we save every dollar that we can,” Douthitt said. “Again, we’ll be focused on every piece of the program trying to figure out where we can cut costs. I do have to say that consolidation is not something that has been on our agenda and has not been discussed. We would hope that is not something that we even have to consider.”