In any other time, a potential 11% cut in State education funding would not be a cause for optimism, but we are in challenging times. As the initial forecast called us to brace for a 14% cut and a $32 Million loss for our School District, we are grateful for the 3% difference now projected by the Governor.
If the State Legislature, this month as we hope, approves a budget with an 11% reduction in State education funding -- a cut of $25 Million for CCSD, it still will hurt. Thankfully, due to my and my senior staff’s efforts to cut expenses furthest from the classroom first, I am able today to publish my recommended, tentative budget for next school year with no furlough days and no tax rate increase.
A balanced budget without the use of furlough days is our School Board’s top priority, as every furlough day would mean a loss of schooling for our students and a pay cut for our dedicated employees.
My recommended budget also includes ample funding to increase safety measures in our schools in preparation for reopening in person on Aug. 3, which I remain truly hopeful we will be able to do.
While the Governor, due to State revenue shortfalls, is now very unlikely to this year provide the remainder of his promised raise for educators, I am recommending longevity salary “step” increases for eligible staff. I strongly believe that continuing to maintain competitive compensation for our educators and staff is crucial to providing the highest quality education possible for our students.
My recommended budget is included as part of the School Board’s June meeting agenda, which is posted online here. The budget opens with an executive summary that further details our spending plans; later this month, my staff will email you our annual Financial Facts report highlighting different aspects of the budget. The School Board will vote on approval of this budget at its July meeting. We will email you reports following each meeting, and we will continue to update you in regard to operations including our tentatively scheduled graduation ceremonies and school reopening plans when finalized.
Thank you for everything,
Dr. Brian V. Hightower
Superintendent of Schools