Preliminary estimates for Hall County Schools’ 2018 fiscal year budget calls for $12.8 million in additional expenditures, most of which would pay for 2 percent pay raises for all of the approximately 3,400 employees and the corresponding benefit increases.
Superintendent Will Schofield presented the early numbers at a school board work session Monday night. The figures would raise total expenditures for 2018 to $239,345,073, up from $226,510,741.02 in budgeted expenditures in the current budget.
He said a proposed budget would be solidified as tax assessment numbers become available and he and other school officials look closely at each line item.
“This is strictly a draft at this point,” Schofield told board members. “We haven’t even gone line by line to make sure we’ve got the right expenditures, but this gives you an idea of where we are. The local digest is the amount of property that is on the tax records … Every year we wait to see what the assessments are and how much it goes up or down because that greatly affects our ability to fund our local public schools.”
Schofield said the state legislature recently required a 2 percent pay raise for all teachers, but he wants to see all of the district’s 3,400 employees get the same increase.
“When we have a raise in the Hall County School District, we don’t think it’s just teachers who do the job or just principals or just bus drivers,” he said. “We’re a team. So, if we do a 2 percent pay raise for one sector of employees, we do it for all employees.
“We’re hoping we can do a little bit more,” he added. “We believe we can only be as good as our people, and we want to compensate them just as fairly as we can. This board operates among the most efficient in the state of Georgia in terms of per-pupil expenditures, but we are proud of the fact that we pay our teachers extremely well.”
A 2 percent raise would account for nearly $11.5 million of the $12.8 million in estimated increases, according to the superintendent. He said $4.7 million would come from the pay raises with the rest coming from employee benefits that increase with the higher salaries. The extra expenses also call for $750,000 already approved to be added to the 2018 fiscal year budget to replace school buses.
Schofield said the early numbers still have the district in good financial shape with more than $24 million projected in the fund balance.
“We have assumed a 5 percent growth in our local digest,” he said. “From our early indications, that seems to be conservative.”
He said he hopes the budget he proposes later this spring will include more than a 2 percent raise for employees and a decrease in the 18.8 millage rate, which is the basis for the tax rate that benefits schools.
“I’m still hoping — I heard you loud and clear — that we’ll be able to do a little more for our employees and that we’ll also be able to look at taking something off the millage rate,” he told board members. “We hope to lower the millage rate, not raise it.”