Bartow school system wants to use some unanticipated 2019 revenues to give a one-time pay supplement to all school system employees in 2020.
The school system also is proposing a 5 percent increase in overall spending in its tentative 2020 budget and a 6.3 percent increase in spending in the budget’s General Fund part.
Bartow County School Board voted on Monday, May 20, to approve the tentative 2020 budget for the school system.
The tentative 2020 budget for all funds totals $184.3 million, up from $175.8 million in 2019.
The General Fund comprises the majority of the budget and includes all areas except food service, capital projects, debt service and grant funding. It is proposed to increase from $122.5 million to $130.3 million.
The proposed $750 pay supplement for all school system employees is being funded by $1.6 million the school system added to reserves in 2019, partly from the sale of surplus computers and property, said Chief Financial Officer Megan Brown.
The money came from the sale of some surplus MacBook computers; the sale of land in Taylorsville and Red Top Mountain; and some budget adjustments which allowed the system to receive some extra state funds, she said.
A pay raise of $3,000 per teacher given by Gov. Brian Kemp this year will be funded with a $4.3 million increase in state funding in 2020, Brown said.
However, increases are needed to pay for rising employee retirement and health insurance costs, step increases for some employees, and salary adjustments designed to make the system more competitive with neighboring systems, Brown said.
The school system is proposing to add 16 additional employees, including 10 teachers, five paraprofessionals for exceptional education, and one high school assistant principal in the budget plan, she said.
The additions will increase total employees to 1,748, of which 127 are hired through Ashton Staffing.
Hiring parapros, clerical staff and bus monitors through the agency saves the school system up to $20,000 per employee annually because it does not pay for health insurance and other benefits, Brown said.
Board member Terry Lee Eggert said he wanted the school system to consider taking competitive bids for a staffing agency in the future to see how Ashton’s cost compares to others.
The system negotiates an annual price through a memorandum of understanding with the staffing agency, Brown said.
A final public hearing on the document is set for June 10 at 5:30 p.m. before the board considers final adoption of the budget June 24 at 6 p.m., both at the Bartow County Board of Education headquarters at 65 Gilreath Road in Cartersville. The 2020 budget year begins July 1.
Brown added she will not know the property tax rate needed to generate about 40 percent of the revenues in the General Fund until later this summer when final tax digest numbers come in. The current rate is 18.85 mills.
However, Brown said she was “hoping to see” an increase from 5% to 8% in the tax digest, which is the total assessed value of all taxable property in the county.
The digest total is combined with a property tax rate to calculate the amount of revenue the rate will generate.
If it produces more revenue than the previous year, state law considers it a tax increase and requires the school board to hold public hearings.