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4 new expenses in Gainesville school system budget
Jeremy Williams --NEW
Gainesville City Schools incoming Superintendent Jeremy Williams

Pay raises and insurance and retirement benefit increases for employees, along with an increase in money for textbooks and other instructional needs, are the biggest new items in a 2018 fiscal year budget approved by the Gainesville school board Monday night.

The board approved the $70.1 million budget Monday, but held off any final decision on the district’s tax rate until the fall when district revenues are clearer. That is the same process the city schools have used for many years, according to Chris Griner, chief financial officer.

“It’s a budget that builds on what we’ve been doing,” said incoming Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is officially chief of staff until the end of the month.

Among the new expenses in the budget are:

• A 2 percent pay raise for all employees

• A $1.1 million increase in the employer portion contribution to the Teacher Retirement System mandated by the state

• $400,000 in additional employer costs to provide health benefits for classified employees, also mandated by the state

• About $170,000 in additional instructional money, which Griner said included about $100,000 for textbooks

Griner said costs associated with the opening of Mundy Mill Academy will not cause as much of hit to the budget in 2017-18 because Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy will be under construction during the year and sharing a campus with Centennial Arts Academy.

The budget assumes the property tax rate at the same 6.85 mills that was in the 2017 budget, but that could change. Griner said the board will consider the tax rate in August and September and make a final decision then whether to keep the rate at 6.85 mills or lower it to the rollback rate of 6.46 mills for 2018. If the rate remains at 6.85 mills, taxes would be higher for those who had an increase in their property assessments this year. The budget anticipates a nearly $1.7 million increase in revenues, just under 9 percent growth. Nearly $2.3 million will come out of reserve funds to balance the budget.

Williams announced at the end of the meeting that Griner had resigned his position. Griner said after the meeting that he is leaving to take the job of chief financial officer for the Sumter School District in South Carolina, a district with about 17,000 students.

“It is a good opportunity for me,” said Griner, who served the past two years with Gainesville City Schools.

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