The Coweta County Board of Education on June 9 tentatively adopted a $179.1 million budget for the FY 2016 school year that begins in July. The school system has no bond debt and the school board expects to maintain the current millage rate at 18.59 mills.
The FY 2016 budget shows $178.37 million in revenues and $179.1 million in expenses, a difference of approximately $740,000. That said, the new budget carries a fund equity, including reserves, of $24.85 million.
School system spokesman Dean Jackson said the FY 2016 budget will maintain the current student calendar of 180 instructional days and the current instructional program for students, provide funding for increases in health insurance costs for classified (parapros and clerical) employees set to take effect in FY 2016, provide step increases for certified (teachers and administrators) and classified employees and where due provide a 2 percent raise for certified and classified school system employees.
Jackson said school system Assistant Superintendent for Finance Keith Chapman reported on June 9 that the system is currently on track to avoid any use of reserves in FY 2015 due to operational cost controls and increases in state and local funding during the year.
Chapman also reported an improvement in state revenues for the upcoming fiscal year and said that continued improvement in the local tax digest is expected.
Chapman said a 2 percent increase in growth for the local tax digest has been budgeted for FY 2016. Local tax digest grew in fiscal years 2015 and 2014, following significant declines in local revenue in several years before that. Earned educational revenues from the state are expected to increase by $6.1 million, in part because of state restoration of funding to school systems to assist with restoring work days and addressing employee pay, said Chapman.
Jackson said 2009 was the last year that the school system employees were offered a raise beyond step raises. FY 2015 (the current year) was the first year in five years that employees whose salaries are not based on the state teacher pay schedule received a step increase, and the first year in several years that three calendar reduction days were eliminated for employees. Those measures had been in place for several years in response to state austerity cuts and other losses of revenue for the school system.
Coweta, like other school systems, saw diminished state and local revenues due to the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession.
The school board is expected to maintain the current millage rate of 18.59 mills. The current millage rate was adopted in 2004.
The school system has no debt service expenditures budgeted in FY 2016 because the school system retired all outstanding bond debt in 2013.
The school board is expected to formally adopt the budget on June 24.