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Minority faculty recruitment, teacher pay raises at top of Gainesville City Schools budget priorities
Jeremy Williams --NEW
Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams

Gainesville City Schools is looking to continue its minority teacher recruitment plan and contribute to wage increases for its entire faculty as highlights of its 2020 fiscal year budget, which the board of education must approve by July 1.

“All that is staying in (the budget),” Superintendent Jeremy Williams said at a board meeting on Monday, May 6.

Williams said he plans to present a proposed budget at the next meeting on May 20.

“We’re still finalizing some things before we bring the budget to you in a few weeks,” he added.

With enrollment growing at elementary, middle and high school levels, Gainesville leaders continue to allocate resources to fill needed positions and additions.

Last year, the board approved new hires to meet demand for work-based learning and special education programs at Gainesville High and Gainesville Middle schools.

Williams said the middle school will need to add a new clerk and extra registrar for the next school year to handle growing enrollment, which now exceeds 8,000 students districtwide.

Gainesville City Schools invested $100,000 this year to recruit minority teachers by partnering with local colleges and universities to fill critical positions across all grade levels, and the first cohort has now been organized.

That program will continue, Williams said, to address staffing needs.

A big boost to staffing needs will come from the state government in the next fiscal year as lawmakers in Atlanta approved salary increases of about $3,000 for all certified public school teachers.

Williams said with that chunk of funding, the school system can dip into its own pockets to provide a 3 percent salary increase for classified employees, such as paraprofessionals, kitchen or clerical staff.

“It’s kind of hard to not then award other faculty members,” Williams said.

Salary increases in all amount to about $2.7 million.

Meanwhile, Gainesville City Schools will see some relief in the increase in the amount it must pay into the teacher retirement system in the next fiscal year.

Williams said a property tax rate of 6.85 is projected to collect about $30.5 million for Gainesville City Schools, but a full rollback to avoid a tax increase would produce $29.5 million.

“So as we talk about the budget,” Williams said, the board will have to decide “whether we use the current millage rate, the full rollback rate or somewhere in between.”

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