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BOE: Teachers to get raises,
no furloughs


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

  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 report.

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 administrative-heavy.”

  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 meeting.

  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.



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