Tim Stultz: Deeper Cuts Only Option to Balance Budget
Tim Stultz, Post 2 school board member, said he opposes what he called "temporary fixes" to balance the budget.
The Cobb County School Board failed to pass a balanced budget for fiscal year 2013 at its meeting Thursday, but Tim Stultz, Post 2 board member representing Smyrna schools, is already thinking ahead to 2014 and 2015.
“I just can’t get past the fact of there’s a larger problem here than just trying to balance this year’s budget,” he said. “I would rather try to tackle larger problems sooner than later. I just can’t support any more temporary fixes.”
In April the school board approved a preliminary budget that featured 350 fewer teachers through attrition, five furlough days for all full-time employees, 175 school days, the use of $21.2 million from reserves, school library paraprofessionals’ hours cut to 60 percent time, a half-year delay in step pay raises for teachers and other eligible employees, and an increase of two students in the average class size
At Thursday’s meeting, board members discussed several other budget alternatives including reductions in furlough days, use of reserve funds to cover the shortfall and suing the state to fully fund the district’s Quality Basic Education formula.
But for Stultz, the only viable is option is to make deeper cuts to an already tight budget. At the meeting he proposed cutting personnel to make up the $54 million shortfall because those costs comprise most of the budget.
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“I’m not saying every single cut ought to be teachers,” Stultz told Smyrna-Vinings Patch. “I think we’re going to definitely look at everything across the board. Other than that, to me that’s the only solution for the budget problem we’re looking at.
“(Cuts to) central office, administration. We have a center amount of positions that are mandated by federal and state. Once we get past those mandated positions, take a look at every single widespread cut that we can make.”
Stultz noted that his proposal to cut personnel is nothing new, citing last year's budget debate when he advocated a hiring freeze to avoid layoffs in the future.
Stultz's disagrees with his fellow board members' proposals to balance the budget. He argues against using reserve funds because of the impact it would have on future budgets.
“Right now we’re projecting a $60 million shortfall this year and up to $80 to $90 million in two years just staying on the same course,” he said. “If you continue to do that you never get to a point where you stop furloughing teachers. You don’t get to a point to where they start receiving their upgrades in pay that they fully deserve. You continue to be stuck in this rut and you’ve got to get out of it. I don’t think a temporary fix is what’s best for everybody.”
Stultz said it’s now up to Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa to propose a balanced budget that can get at least four votes.
“If he’s willing to listen to any of the cuts I would like to make then I would definitely be willing to support it,” he said. “Usually the way that it works is you try to create an idea or a budget that can get at least four votes. So I’m not sure if he’d be willing to explore any deeper cuts or not. I really believe that we’ve got to stand pretty tight on this. It really is a very criticial moment for this district.”