Gwinnett schools try to save community program

The Gwinnett School District is combing through its budget to salvage its Community Partnership Program, which drew more than a million enrollments last year. The program is trying to overcome a late budget cut to stay in business.

The enterprise provides school resources to extend education and recreation to the community in program like drivers ed and summer camps. It registered 1.25 million people in 13,000 classes last year but lost 60 percent of its $1.7 million budget this year when the county dropped its funding. The county’s share had helped pay directors’ salaries.

“We will make adjustments for funding the program at mid-year, as part of our normal review for our budget,” said school spokeswoman Sloan Roach. Those adjustments could include savings from vacant positions, fuel costs and other cost-cutting measures, she said.

In addition, a portion of enrollment fees in the program will be used to pay for administrative costs, she said. In the past, fees were reinvested within the particular class to help make improvements, Roach said.

Another measure calls for adjusting the community schools directors’ work schedules to cut costs, Roach said, but that won’t be considered until next year.

So far, she said, there is no data on whether the number of classes will shrink because of the budget strain.

The district acted last week to shore up funding for its school crossing guard program — another casualty of county budget cuts — just in time for the opening of classes. School officials are applying savings from vacant positions to pay the county $24,873 a month for 10 months to provide morning and afternoon guards at 29 schools.