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How the governor's budget cuts directly impact public school districts

Bibb School leaders break down how the governor's cutback will impact their operational funds, not the ESPLOST.

MACON, Ga. — Public school districts have two pots of funding — money that comes from the state for their operational budget and then the ESPLOST from local taxpayers.

Bibb Schools Director of Capital Programs Sam Kitchens oversees projects like building the New Appling Middle School and Rileydale Elementary, funded through the ESPLOST.

"Our budget and our projections are based off of revenue from sales tax, so this department is wholly depended on sales tax," Kitchens said.

"Those monies could only be used for those projects and not for our normal operating expenses," Bibb Schools Director of Finance Ron Collier said.

He says the governor's budget cuts affects their operational side, not the local sales tax funds.

"The construction and building of schools is based upon the ESPLOST that the voters so gracefully approved five years ago, has nothing to do with the cuts that are happening now," Collier said.

The Bibb School District's options for dealing with state budget cuts include a shorter school year, a four-day week, furloughs, a job freeze, and a possible tax increase.

"Those affect our operating budget, in affect what that means, the governor cuts that budget and the number you've heard is 14 percent. He's cutting the district's funding, state QBE funding and grant by 14 percent," Collier said.

A 14 percent cut is about $18 million.

The district received $10 million from the state's coronavirus relief fund, but that still leaves them about $8 million in the hole.

The school board will discuss a plan when the board meets on June 18.

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