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Anticipating state cuts, Gainesville Schools moves to delay budgeting process
Gainesville City School System superintendent Jeremy Williams speaks during a virtual school board meeting on Monday, May 4. - photo by Nathan Berg

The Gainesville City School District will not submit a budget for approval at the end of June as planned, and will instead bring a spending resolution before the board asking that the timeline for budget approval be pushed back a month.

The move to delay the budget submission until the end of July was announced in a statement made by Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams at a school board meeting on Monday evening. Williams acknowledged that the spending resolution would have to be brought before the governor..

Williams added that based on conversations he’s had with other superintendents around the state, many other school districts would be moving forward with similar budget plans.

The delay in an approved budget comes in response to recent guidance from Georgia legislators advising all state-funded agencies to expect a 14% budget cut across the board. The state legislature will not meet again until June, and Williams said that timeline would not give Gainesville City Schools enough time to propose an accurate budget by the typical deadline.

“Our planning as we move forward is taking all the information I’ve shared with you and saying how can we best position ourselves not only financially, but if we have to extend the start date of school, or if we have another rise in the fall where we’ve got to do remote learning again? We have to position ourselves to take advantage of that and be prepared for that. And so putting all those pieces together is going to be done over the next few weeks.”

Williams said the 14% budget decrease would result in a $6 million to $6.5 million decrease in state funding for the next school year. The school system will be receiving $2,117,696 in federal aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Support Act in money that must be used by September of 2020. And while that funding is meant to be used for things such as distance and remote learning and school lunch delivery while school campuses are closed, Williams said it could also be used for “continuity of personnel and offsetting personnel costs.”

Williams said the current budget projections predict decreases in spending in every department except instruction, which will be increasing because it is an adoption year for math resources, and technology, which will be increasing in a way that is “lining up with the expenses we’ve had in the last couple years.”

Williams said that while furloughs can be used to adjust for decreased budget, he is “not comfortable telling you we’re going to take them yet.” He added that he is currently advising principals to go forward with planned hires for the 2020-2021 school year, and that any future adjustment in staffing would be made on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s important for our staff to know that they’re appreciated and that we’re going to do everything we can to maintain the quality of education that we provide our kids now, but also maintain the class sizes that we’ve been able to have,” Williams said. “We’re going to try everything we can, but also understand that at the end of the day, we do have a 14% cut coming to us from the state funds. We’re all in this together.” 

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