SCCPSS hosting public meetings for budget input - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SCCPSS hosting public meetings for budget input

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Public school officials in Chatham County are now planning next year's budget, and they want to hear your opinion on how they should spend your money. 

They held the first of several public input meetings Wednesday night, and it's the first time the district has ever held meetings to get public input on the budget. Rather than have people come to their offices or to school board meetings, they want to go to out in the community to hear people out.

"My platform has been, since I've been superintendent, give the schools back to the people,” said Dr. Thomas Lockamy, SCCPSS Superintendent. “And I think this is the way we're trying to do this tonight, that people don't come to us, let's go to them and find out what they want."

What the school district is going for is transparency when it comes to spending. Wednesday, they condensed the budgeting process and hundreds of pages of financial reports into a 20 minute overview.

"And so that was the initial intent, to go ahead and break it down so that the average citizen would understand where their money's going to,” said Larry Lower, school board member and chairman of the board’s budget committee.

School officials anticipate more than 600 additional students will be enrolled in the school system next year, and as growth continues, top budget priorities include hiring more teachers, building new schools and expanding existing ones.

But the biggest change going into 2017 will involve getting students to and from school. Wednesday morning the school board voted to transition to a district-run transportation program. This comes after contractor MV Transportation backed out of its two-year deal to provide bus services for the district.

"Sure, we're concerned with it. When you take on a mammoth situation as that, you know," said Lower.

But he says they've got it "under control." And the superintendent estimates the shift will save the district anywhere from $3 to $4 million.

"And I'm very confident,” said Lockamy. “Actually, I'm happy to know that we're going to be able to manage it, because honestly transportation during my tenure has been my biggest headache, not some of the other things people might think."

Lockamy admits he's disappointed in the turnout for this first public meeting; fewer than a dozen people showed up.

If you want to be a part of the process, but missed Wednesday's meeting, here are the date, times and location of the next three meetings:

  • Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. at Beach High School on 3001 Hopkins Street, Savannah.
  • Monday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at Godley Station K-8 Schoo on 2135 Benton Boulevard, Savannah.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at Johnson High School on 3012 Sunset Boulevard, Savannah.

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