Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield this week outlined several critical components of the next budget in an interview with The Times.
The Hall County Schools Board of Education won’t approve a budget for the 2020 fiscal year until the end of June, and negotiations, funding estimates and other factors are in the preliminary stages, but revenues and expenditures are both surging, Schofield said.
Hall County Schools is currently operating on an approximately $259 million general fund budget.
Schofield expects about $14 million in additional revenue for the next budget, with most of that increase tied to teacher pay raises allocated by the state.
But local tax and investment revenues are also up, and even conservative estimates place the expected additional revenue at about $3.9 million, Schofield said.
Expenditures could jump about $11 million, according to early estimates, he added.
The school district is looking to allocate an additional $1.3 million for 15 unfilled positions to meet growing demands as the next school year progresses, a standard practice; as well as $700,000 for eight additional teaching positions to fill special education needs and growth at the new Cherokee Bluff middle and high school campus in South Hall.
Schofield said there is also a need to hire more bus drivers.
And a “significant increase” in professional learning activities, materials and personnel to support the school district’s literacy programs requires additional funding.
Schofield said he also expects more than $1 million in state-supported funds for ongoing school safety enhancements.
Plans to install early-notification systems at all schools and a pilot program that alerts authorities to real-time safety threats on campuses are in the works.
But school safety begins with additional funding for mental health programs supported by “third-party” agencies, Schofield said, such as Avita Community Partners.
“We appreciate (Gov. Brian Kemp) and his realization that mental health is at the core of all of this,” Schofield said.