Pandemic causing changes to SCCPSS budget process

Pandemic causing changes to SCCPSS budget process

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is back to the drawing board for their budget amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s completely altered their plan, and for the first time in recent history, the school district will go into the year without an approved budget.

Before COVID-19, the Savannah-Chatham budget was well on its way. But that all changed as the pandemic unfolded. Now, they are looking at a deficit and where cuts will be needed.

The total revenues for 2021 is more than $444 million but the projected expenditures are at $453 million; leaving a difference of $9 million. Financial leaders with the district say these numbers include a 14 percent cut to their budget that's requested by the state.

They also say it’s not uncommon to begin the year with a deficit, but now they are looking at areas of reduction and use of their fund balance.

The board was presented a list of items that could be looked at from furloughs, increased class sizes, reduce intervention options and more. While district leaders know it's not a great outlook, they say it could be worse.

"Thank goodness we have been putting money into our fund balance and it has kept us from being in a really terrible situation. We are already in a, this is terrible, but we would be I don't know what we would be doing if our fund balance was not healthy based on putting into the past couple of years that we have been,” SCCPSS Budget Director Paige Cooley said.

The timeline for this budget is still very unclear as the district waits to see what the state actually allocates and how they plan to move forward. Board members say they hope to look closely and prioritize cost saving measures in the meantime.

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