Schools get boost in piggy bank

Good news for financially strapped public school systems throughout the country.
President Obama signed the Education Jobs Fund into law on Aug. 10, 2010, to provide $10 billion in federal assistance to public school districts to save or create education jobs.
The Grady County School system was awarded $858,000 of the $322,313,830 that will be received by the state of Georgia. The state may use up to two percent to cover administrative expenses (this includes the cost of auditing).
According to an analysis of the Education Jobs Fund sent to local superintendents by the Georgia Department of Education, the funds can only be used to save or create jobs for the school year 2010-2011. The money can be used to pay the salaries of teachers and other employees who provide school-level educational and related services. School boards can also choose to reduce/eliminate the number of furlough days. The funds cannot be used for general administrative expenses, central office expenses, or for employees of private schools.
“Those funds are to: (1) save teacher jobs; (2) help avoid additional salary cuts; and (3) replace some teacher salary cuts,” wrote Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis in an email message to Grady County faculty and staff, noting the funds must be used by September 2012.
He further stated, “There has been a lot of discussion concerning our situation in Grady County, and we optimistically are looking at different options. We would like to replace some salary for all employees, and then wait until the spring to see what additional cuts from the state are coming our way. At that time, we would be in a better situation to decide if we can return additional salary, or if the remaining funding has to be used to keep jobs or avoid additional salary reductions.”
The superintendent reported the school system would receive half of the funds in September and the other half in October.
Dr. Pharis said his role and that of Chief Financial Officer Dan Broome would be to examine the possibilities of how the money can be spent, and to present scenarios to the board of education along with the “financial implications” of all scenarios.
The superintendent would make a recommendation to the board after it has heard and discussed all the different scenarios presented. “The final decision as to what we do will be a board decision,” explained Pharis, adding, “the decision would be based on the data that we supply to them and recommendations we give to them.”

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