Local News

Budget cuts could hit Franklin public schools hard

Posted February 9, 2009 4:50 p.m. EST
Updated February 28, 2009 9:57 a.m. EST

— Franklin County Schools administrators and teachers say they worry about the effect "monumental" state budget cuts could have on the classroom.

"In 33 years, I've never seen anything to touch what we're going through now," teacher Cheryl DeMent said.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, said in January that during this General Assembly session, lawmakers would have to look at cutting education spending, which accounts for 60 percent of the state's budget. Analysts project a $2 billion shortfall for the state this fiscal year.

"That was monumental. That was not business as usual. That was something extraordinary," said Doug Moore, Franklin County Schools assistant superintendent for business and finance.

Franklin schools receive $48 million from the state. A 3 percent cut would reduce that by $1.5 million; 7 percent, by $3.5 million.

System administrators said cuts that deep would definitely have an impact on the classroom and on student services and might force job cuts.

"There's not enough to do all the things that we've always done," said Dr. Bert L'Homme, superintendent of Franklin County Schools.

State Department of Public Instruction officials say the actual amount of funding reductions would vary by district.

State officials said that some teachers could lose their jobs, a fear Franklin administrators also voiced.

"I don't think it's anything that we in Franklin County had really considered, so it's hit home in ways that it hadn't hit before," DeMent said.