Coweta schools eye $154 million budget

Thu, 05/11/2006 - 4:07pm
By: Ben Nelms

The Coweta County Board of Education May 11 voted 6-1 to approve a tentative $154 million General Fund Budget for the 2006-2007 school year. Though an increase of $18.4 million, the move comes with the anticipation that school millage rates will not increase.

School System comptroller Keith Chapman told board members most of the increase in the school system’s operational budget is driven by personnel costs, including new teachers to keep up with growth along with a 4 percent salary increase and increasing energy costs such as heating costs and fuel costs for the bus system.

All but $500,000 of the increase is attributable to those two factors, Chapman said. Increases in the number of teachers must conform to state class-size reductions in grades K-8.

The school system’s budget projects include the use of up to $3.4 million in local budget reserves to balance the budget. Chapman noted that the budget also projected a conservative 4.5 percent rise in the Coweta County tax digest. If the actual rise reported later this year is higher that may offset or eliminate the need to spend reserve funds to balance the budget, he said.

Board member Brian Roy voted against the budget as presented, saying he disagreed with the budgeting of reserve funds. He complimented Superintendent Blake Bass and staff for cutting funds in this year’s budget and in the past several year’s budgets to accommodate state-imposed austerity funding cuts.

Those austerity cuts began in the 2002-2003 school year due to difficult economic conditions across Georgia.

The cuts imposed on Coweta school system total $12.737 million over the four-year period. The board adopted a resolution calling for the General Assembly to restore the hit taken by public education by using state surplus funds. The Board of Eduction will be forced to either cut services or increase the millage rate if the austerity cuts are not restored, the resolution said.

The General Fund budget is the operating budget for the school system, and is funded by a combination of state revenue and local sales taxes, said school system Public Information Officer Dean Jackson.

The General Fund includes instructional funds, school system personnel, pupil services, school maintenance and operation, transportation and other day-to-day costs of operating the school systems.

In addition to the $154 million Operations Budget, other school system budgets include the Special Revenue Fund, which accounts for state and federal funding sent to special federal programs, such as Title I and federal lunch programs.

The Capital Projects Fund for construction and Debt Service fund are funded principally by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds and some state funding. The total for all budgets is $222 million.

Final approval for the General Fund Budget could come at the board’s June meeting.

login to post comments