By Monroe Roark
The Henry County Board of
Education is considering a $318 million budget for the 2014-15
fiscal year with no furlough days and a raise for employees.
During a presentation at last
Wednesday’s work study session by Jeff Allie, the school system’s
assistant superintendent for financial services, it was revealed
that officials expect the local tax digest to increase 13 percent or
$12 million this year after decreasing about 35 percent from 2009 to
2013. State revenue is also up about $15 million for the year
compared to last year, it was reported. School system leaders are
taking this news with caution as they are not sure that this will be
the new norm.
According to the report at
the study session, Henry County had the seventh highest decline in
tax revenue in the entire state from 2008 to 2012 – about $222
million, or 17 percentage points higher than the state average.
Also, the school system is paying about 13 percent more to the
Teachers Retirement System on behalf of its employees, or twice as
much as the employees pay.
With all of this news, good
and bad, the board was presented with a balanced budget for the 2015
fiscal year, with no need to dip into reserve funds. The school
system also has an excellent bond rating according to Allie’s
The proposed budget calls for a
3-percent salary increase and 88 new positions for the upcoming
school year. Class size allotment ratios are expected to be the same
as or lower than the current school year.
Seventy percent of budget
expenditures go toward instruction/classroom costs, according to the
report, and the school system spends less than 174 of the 180
districts in Georgia on administrative costs per student, which led
officials to stress that Henry County is not “top heavy or
The tentative budget will be
considered for approval at the April 14 school board meeting, with
the final budget expected to pass in June.
In other school board news, a
proposed price increase for school meals has been presented to
comply with federal mandates. Breakfast costs would not rise, but
lunch prices would go up by 10 cents for all students. Breakfast and
lunch prices for staff and adult visitors would increase by 25
cents. Those adjustments are up for approval at the April 14
The monthly construction
report indicated that Hampton High School is moving on schedule
toward its opening this fall. Other major projects expected to be
completed by the start of next school year include renovations or
additions at Eagle’s Landing Middle and High, Stockbridge High, and
the Academy for Advanced Studies. Various wireless data network
upgrades are also on schedule.
The study session, which convened a week
earlier than usual due to spring break, was the first BOE meeting
since Rodney Bowler assumed his new role as superintendent April 1.