School budget set at $341 million

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County School System will be operating during the 2015-16 school year under the largest operating budget in its history.

The Board of Education voted June 8 to approve a $341 million budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. School system officials cited an improving tax digest and increased state funding that allowed for the increase to serve a growing student population and hire more teachers to keep class size ratios lower.

The new budget is free of furlough days and includes a five-percent raise for all employees. It requires only a minimal borrow against the fund balance, according to officials.

“We are extremely pleased to see this sound budget passed unanimously by a board who recognizes and understands the many needs of our school system,” said superintendent Rodney Bowler.

Just over 100 new positions are being added to the employee ranks to meet the district’s growing needs.

According to officials, the school system ranks 176th out of 180 when accounting for expenditures for central office positions per student. The state average for per pupil expenditures for central office expenses is $368, while Henry County spends $156 per student for the same expenses.

“Next to the safety, security, and quality education for our students, it is our job to be good stewards of taxpayer money,” said Bowler. “The budget approved satisfies this responsibility and sets our 41,000 plus students and 5,000-plus employees up for a successful year in the classroom. We greatly appreciate our board and their support of our efforts.”

The board also approved a number of student and employee handbooks for the 2015-16 academic year: elementary student/parent handbook, secondary student/parent handbook, certified employee handbook, classified employee handbook, bus operations manual, and substitute teacher handbook.

The following job descriptions were approved at last week’s meeting: director of facilities and maintenance, director of student services, coordinator of student services, coordinator of legal compliance, coordinator of discipline and safety, and instructional lead teacher.

Special recognition was given to Allen Guimarin, director of facilities and maintenance, who is retiring after 21 years with the school system, during which time he has overseen the construction of more than 30 of its buildings.