Although Cherokee County would still see about $18 million in state cuts to education funding, Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo thanked Deal for “making funding a priority” at the school board work session Thursday.
“It gets us a percentage of the way back to where we were five years ago, but it obviously doesn’t get us all the way back,” Petruzielo said.
The superintendent commended the governor for “increasing local flexibility” on state education funding for local districts.
The possible reduction to the state budget cuts Deal talked about in his State of the State address this week could bring about $7.5 million back to the district, Petruzielo said.
However, he warned in a system with such a large budget, $7.5 million would not be enough to return the school system to its level of funding prior to the state cuts.
“It just maintains the same level of programs for more kids,” he said. “Just to give perspective on what that means, in terms of if that represents $7.5 million for us: generally a 1 percent raise for all of our employees costs $1.5 million; the furlough days save us about $1 million per day, so just eliminating the three furlough days uses half the money.”
Petruzielo said Deal could have focused on giving teacher raises, but instead chose to allow local districts to decide how to best spend the state education funds each received.
“We really appreciate his tip of the hat to local control,” Petruzielo said.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6 at 7 p.m., at the historic Canton High School Board Auditorium at 111 Academy St. in Canton.
Also at the meeting Thursday, the board:
• Re-elected School Board member Robert Wofford as vice chair for his second consecutive year;
• Heard a presentation from Petruzielo about his executive administrative assistant being named the 2014 Best Volunteer in Cherokee County;
• Heard from River Ridge teacher Judi Haggerty about the Piedmont Regional Technology Competition;
• Presented with a resolution from the Cherokee County Council of PTA supporting school district employees and TRAGIC group’s protest of the State Health Benefit Plan provider and plan changes;
• Approved the Georgia Education Coalition 2014 Legislative Priorities;
• Approved the first reading of revisions to board policy regarding meeting minutes;
• Approved monthly personnel recommendations and specifically noted the upcoming retirements of Director of School Operations Michael Vernor and Supervisor of Special Education Dr. Pam Ballato;
• Approved a student discipline matter, discussed in executive session; and
• Approved a motion reviewed in executive session to sell 4.5 acres on Highway 108 in Sutallee to the Georgia Department of Transportation for $147,600, the same price the district paid for the land.