Organizers had to bring out extra chairs to accommodate the crowd gathered for the Fayette County Public School open forum.
The purpose of the meeting was to listen to feedback from the community about the $20 million budget cut to the operating fund.
Hundreds of people were able to share their ideas during an hour long round table discussion. There were more than 30 tables set up for a conversation with eight people.
Two of the group members were from the school system. One facilitated the discussion, the other wrote down every idea and concern that was said.
Fayette County Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said this is a way for the public to ask questions and share thoughts.
“You know some people have said, ‘Are we broke?’ And first of all the answer is no, we're not broke,” Shelton said. “We have a $36 million surplus. We don't want that surplus to decline.”
At the end of the meeting, each table elected a representative to read what its top three priorities are going forward with budget talks. Some of them include:
- Keep students a top priority.
- Maintain the class sizes below state average.
- Quality of education.
- Effective and efficient technology.
- No loss of art programs.
Shelton said they will not be eliminating any programs, but with less state and federal money, there will be changes.
“Cuts are going to have to happen, if we didn't have revenue restored,” he said. “And it's just that we've gotten to that point where this is the right time to do it - before we go any farther down in our fund balance.”
They said every idea brought up during the small group discussion will be posted online at www.fcps.net/budget.
Questions and concerns can be sent to administrators around the clock at www.fcps.net/letstalk.
The next community forum, which is primarily for faculty and staff – but the public is still invited, is Tuesday, March 11th at 6 p.m. It will be held at Northeast Christian Church on Star Shoot Parkway in Hamburg.