Coweta BoE examines budget with no millage increase

The Coweta County Board of Education voted to tentatively approve a FY 2015 operational budget of at the June 11 meeting. The budget maintains the school system’s 180-day school year, eliminates the three-day reduction in work calendar for school employees and provides step raises for employees. Pictured are Superintendent Steve Barker (L) and Board Chairman Winston Dowdell. Photo/Special.

The Coweta County Board of Education is expected to adopt the $173 million operations budget for the 2014-2015 school year at the June 24 meeting. Included in the budget are the restoration of a full work-year calendar for all employees and employee step increases.

The FY 2015 budget represents a $5 million increase over the current budget. The school system expects revenues totaling $193.8 million, of which $20.8 million will make up the fund equity.

Tentatively approved by the school board on June 11, the FY 2015 that begins in July will maintain the current 180-day student calendar, will include a step increase for employees whose salaries are based the state teacher pay scale and a step increase for employees whose salaries are not based on the state teacher pay scale. Pay for employees whose salaries are not based on the teacher pay scale has been frozen for the past five years, said school system spokesman Dean Jackson.

Jackson said the budget also restores a full work-year calendar to all employees by eliminating the three calendar reduction days for employees that have been in place for several years in response to state austerity cuts and other loss of revenue for the school system. All employees working beyond the 180-day instructional calendar have been subject to the three-day reduction for the last several years.

The FY 2015 general fund budget of $172,975,820 tentatively approved June 11 is funded principally by state revenues and local property taxes. The general fund includes the largest portion of funding for instruction and pupil services, maintenance and operation of schools, transportation and other operational costs, Jackson said.

School System Assistant Superintendent for Financial Services Keith Chapman reported an improvement in state revenues for the upcoming fiscal year, adding that the school system was projecting a 3 percent increase in growth for the local tax digest. That compares to the 1.69 percent growth seen last year along with significant declines in local revenue during the several previous fiscal years.

Revenue totals show $76.2 million from local sources, $91.4 million from the state and $580,000 from federal sources.

As in the past several years, the school board will retain the current millage rate of 18.59 mills.

The school system has no bond debt service. All outstanding bonds were retired in 2013.

In addition to the general fund, Jackson said there were three other components tentatively approved by the board as a part of its total FY 2015 budget.

These include $22,731,539 in special revenue funds, which accounts for funding sent to special federal programs such as Title I, federal lunch programs, and IDEA (funding for disabilities).

Also included is $47.3 million in capital projects funds which account for construction and other capital expenditures during the year. School construction is funded principally by Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues. The system also receives some state funding for construction, said Jackson.