Also at the meeting, the district’s chief financial officer told the board that preliminary numbers indicate a $72.2 million deficit for fiscal year 2013, which could lead to further pay cuts.
The biggest topic of debate at the school board’s seven-hour meeting was adopting a policy regarding how the calendar is changed.
The board is expected to vote on the rule change at their Oct. 27 night meeting.
The policy recommended by the superintendent and his staff would require that the board adopts changes to a two-year calendar at least nine months before the effective date, the board forms a committee to study the options and recommend at least two, and that the committee begins work in August and makes recommendations by Oct. 1.
“We feel like there needed to be a little bit of structure as to how we move forward with our two-year calendar,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said. “We felt that this committee get started in August, when school is back and people are here.”
Dr. Cheryl Hungerford, the district’s newly appointed chief of staff, said the committee would comprise 27 members.
“We felt it very important that we have a diverse stakeholder representative group that would bring lots of different opinions, ideas and research to the table as we begin our work at looking at this calendar,” she said.
The proposed committee would include one representative appointed by each board member, one parent and one staff member each appointed by area assistant superintendents, a staff member from the curriculum, budget, human resources, transportation, athletics and graduation departments and someone from higher education and the business community, both appointed by Hinojosa.
School board member Tim Stultz recommended the staff consider adding someone from the construction and SPLOST departments, and board chair Alison Bartlett asked that someone from the music department sit on the committee.
Banks began reading a statement during the discussion, recapping the divisive debate the last time the calendar was changed, but Bartlett interrupted him, asking that he talk solely about the policy that was before them.
“I don’t want us shooting arrows at one another. I want us working as a team,” Bartlett told Banks. “Do not discuss previous behaviors at this moment.”
“(Changing the policy) has no meaning when the new board comes in,” Banks said. “They can change it. So, this precedent has already been set. It can be changed at any time. Having the rule does not change that.”
Vice chair Scott Sweeney recommended the board consider approving a one-year calendar for now, then moving into approving calendars two years at a time.
Lynnda Eagle disagreed with Sweeney’s recommendation, saying she wanted to give schools and the administration two years from the beginning and not one.
At the close of the discussion, Banks proposed that they put the calendar vote back on the table immediately, but none of the board members agreed with his proposal.
“We have a calendar and it needs to run its course,” David Morgan said.
Banks pointed out that the last calendar was changed before its scheduled end.
“We did that in 2009 but it got superseded,” he said. “Would you rather the community stay enraged for the next two years or get this issue settled right now? There’s no problem with getting this committee together in 10 days.”
Morgan said the public was weary of the calendar debate.
“I think that whether people agree to disagree, they have accepted that,” Morgan said. “Changing (the calendar) wouldn’t be a good message for the board to send.”
During another presentation, Chief Financial Officer Mike Addison said the district is looking at a sizable deficit for the next fiscal year.
According to preliminary numbers numbers, the district is looking at a $72.2 million deficit. However, that number was reached without knowing what funds will be coming in from the state or having numbers from the tax assessor’s office.
“I wouldn’t be worried, but I think it is an alert that we’re probably facing some fairly difficult economic issues,” Addison said. “I think our economy here in the metro area has been a little slower in recovering, if there is a recovery.”
The approved FY12 budget was approximately $851.8 million, compared to the forecasted $890 million budget for FY13.
Addison said that if the district may to have to start looking at costs to trim, including salary cuts.
“Unfortunately 90 percent of our expenses are people,” he said.
Addison said the district has begun to consider the options, including increasing class size, which would result in fewer teachers.
“We’re just kind of brainstorming right now,” he said. “The central office has been decimated over the last few years, and we’re running out of areas to cut.”
The board also accepted resignations from Dr. Donald Dunnigan, chief of human resources; Jan Holley, support services and evaluation systems for human resources; and Kevin Sherman, compensation manager for human resources.
In other business, the board moved the following agenda items to the consent agenda:
* Increasing the amount of nursing services for medically fragile students.
* Approving the Georgia Department of educational capital outlay project reimbursements of $3.5 million for Varner, Rocky Mount and Norton Park elementary schools and Dodgen, Mabry and Lost Mountain middle schools.
The board kept the following agenda items on the discussion agenda:
* Approving a $500,000 bid to SnapSports Southeast out of Alpharetta to purchase and install resilient athletic flooring in 15 middle and elementary school gyms and play areas.
* Approving a $664,000 or $1.1 million contract to Baldwin Paving out of Atlanta to pave the current bus parking lot at Sanders Road Bus Shop in south Cobb and/or add 50 bus parking spaces.