BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Board of Education approved the fiscal year 2021 operating budget during the September meeting. The approved budget matches the previously presented tentative budget.
“The challenges we faced in this budget is the very large TBE cut for the state of Georgia…and the added cost of mitigation for COVID-19, which is very costly. We’ve spent several hundred thousand dollars thus far in mitigation strategies,” Superintendent John Hill stated.
Some mitigation tactics include cleaning products, masks, plexiglass, air filters, and PPE to ensure students, faculty, and staff’s safety.
UCS didn’t raise taxes, and all current Union County Schools (UCS) employees will receive their same pay rate. No one will see a pay cut.
As for the CTAE Budget and goals for 2021, the program now falls under Perkins Five for the federal government money. Perkins Five money for Union is $27,199, and some of that goes toward professional development. The state cut agriculture grants by 10 percent. However, the state superintendent is using some of the CARES Act funds to address those state cuts.
“We’re developing a five-year plan for the College and Career Academy, which includes the [facilities] grant,” said Director Josh Davis.
CTAE is also working around COVID-19 to keep students active and learning in different programs this year.
Additionally, the board of education approved updates to four of the school system’s policies: equal education opportunities (JAA), sexual harassment of students (JCAC), equal opportunity employment (GAAA), sexual harassment of employees (GAEB).
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights issued new Title Nine regulations regarding sexual harassment. The policies went into effect in August, and UCS needed to update its protocols to comply with federal laws. JAA and GAAA are now 10 page polices. Each one provides detailed and legally binding rules on how the school should manage to sexual harassment claims, promptness of response, and overall handling of the case.
“They obligate us to respond promptly and supportively to the alleged [sexual harassment victim.] What we have doesn’t get near enough to what it’s supposed to be now. We now have more specific definitions, response expectations,” explained Assistant Superintendent David Murphy. He added, “In fact, for students, if you draw a paycheck from the school district, you are now a mandated reporter for sexual harassment for students.”
School leadership also participated in training to better understand all federal requirements for these policy updates.