Washington Co. Schools Getting Creative in Funding Crisis

By: Bergen Baucom
By: Bergen Baucom

Chipley, FL - Washington County school officials said they've made moves in answering some of the immediate funding problems. But, many fear the future is not as clear.

On paper, Washington County schools will resume in August 1.3 million dollars in the hole. But in reality, that's not too bad. "There's been a few other funds that we've been able to secure to be able to put into that 1.3 million deficit" said Dr. Sandra Cook, the Washington County Superintendent. It's the following year that Cook's concerned about. "We're looking at the 2013-2014 to be a 1.4 million [deficit] and we don't know where we're going to come up with the money" she told us Wednesday.

School officials have been looking at possible cuts to compensate for the future. This Saturday will mark the end of the fiscal year for Washington County schools and officials have been scrambling to figure out how they'll operate 1.4 million dollars below the budget.

But just when officials started feeling down on their luck, a pick up truck arrived with $12,000 worth of equipment to donate to the school board. Employees from Ultra Power's South Carolina factory had two gas generators, a pressure cleaner, a water pump, and other equipment left-over from an auction in Dothan.They'd planned on visiting Panama City Beach and donating it there, but made a wrong turn and wound up in Chipley.

"They were just stopping and asking for directions and realized it was a school district office and said, are you interested" Cook explained of the unusual stroke of luck. "We were looking for something to eat and just happened upon it" said Ultra Power employee, John Robert Bell.

Cook told us, "it wasn't equipment we were looking to go out and actually purchase. We have a need for it, it's something we can use, but it's like one of those things that's kind of like a windfall all of the sudden, so we were very excited about it."

The school district will hold their own auction and also plans to sell scrap metal in an attempt to hopefully prevent lay-offs. The auction and budget cuts will be the main topic during Thursday's board meeting.

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