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Gainesville schools budget proposal includes pay increase for all employees
Plan would spend about $68.1 million
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Gainesville City Schools’ proposed budget includes a 3 percent pay increase for all employees.

The school system would spend about $68.1 million, and use about $1.7 million in reserve funds, if the proposal is approved.

The city board of education heard the budget outline in a two-hour training session Thursday.

Chris Griner, the schools’ chief financial officer, explained the budget details to the board.

He projected the district would have $66.4 million in revenue for the general fund. Other funds, such as debt service, federal program and school nutrition, will be added before the budget is approved.

As proposed, the budget is about $2.6 million more than the current school year.

Wanda Creel, Gainesville superintendent, and Griner explained the budget includes a pay raise, but it is on the 2016-17 salary schedule as a “grant” and not added to the pay scale.

Creel said the district does not know if that money will be added to the state appropriation each year. She pointed out Gov. Nathan Deal did not mention that distinction when he presented his budget.

Griner said the system expects to get about $600,000 more from the state for 2016-17 than the current year.

“We did get the money (for raises), but we also lost it in some other places,” Griner said. The state money projected for next year does not include enough new money to cover the cost of the 3 percent pay increase, he said.

The board is expected to consider giving tentative approval to the budget at its May 16 meeting, and public hearings would be scheduled May 23. Creel said the district plans to provide a video on its website right after the May 16 meeting that would explain the budget. That would allow residents to review the budget and make comments at the public hearings if they want, she said.

The budget also includes 18 new teaching positions at the middle and high school levels, Griner noted.

Creel said the system is growing. She said the student enrollment at Gainesville High School next year is expected to be 2,100 — a jump of 200 students.

Sarah Bell, chief academic officer, told the board the enrollment in elementary grades is generally getting larger.

Brett Mercer, board vice chair, asked if that meant the high school enrollment could “double in five or six years.” It could, she noted.

Griner said the budget projections are about “98 percent complete.” Among the details still to be completed, he said, are the exact needs for teachers at the middle and high school levels.