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Tentative school budgets to come after today's meetings
Hall, Gainesville boards' final budgets must be in place by July 1
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Both the Hall County and Gainesville school systems are likely to have tentative fiscal year 2013 budgets after tonight’s board meetings.

Hall County Schools has called a meeting for 5 p.m. Gainesville City Schools will host a monthly work session at 6 p.m.

Boards must adopt a tentative budget for public examination two weeks before adopting a final budget.

The final budget for next fiscal year must be in place by July 1.

Hall’s preliminary revenue is estimated at $3 million less than fiscal year 2012. That operating budget was around $196 million.

But with less revenue, Hall school officials are preparing for more expenditures.

Health insurance and teacher retirement will cost an estimated $2.8 million more than in 2011-12.

That is despite leaving as many as 20 positions unfilled and possibly raising class sizes systemwide by one or two students.

“Even though we’re going to have significantly fewer folks around, we’re going to be paying a lot more benefits,” said Will Schofield, Hall superintendent.

Gainesville’s revenue is estimated to be down from last year as well, with a projection of $51.3 million.

However, with rising benefit costs as well as state austerity cuts, the city system is looking at up to 10 furlough days and cutting more than 20 positions through attrition, nonrenewals and moving employees around.

Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville superintendent, said the system is still looking for areas to cut.

“We are looking again through all accounts and functions to see if there is anything else we can cut,” said Dyer. “We are trying to reduce further the number of furlough days.”

Hall schools also are preparing for 10 furlough days.

“The biggest decision we have to make is do we cut eight, nine or 10 days,” said Schofield.

But, he said, the system is looking at a plan that could add days back onto the calendar if finances level out. That would be evaluated in December.

“We’ve had so many surprises after the start of the year in recent years, but that would allow us to recapture an instructional day in February,” Schofield said. “And at the February meeting we would make a determination whether we could add back another day of post-planning.”

Both systems are scheduled to outpace revenues with projected expenditures, tapping into the reserve funds to make up the difference.

Hall could tap its fund for $7.6 million and Gainesville for more than $3 million.

Financial officers for both systems will present the boards with their suggestions. Once approved, those proposals will be open for public viewing and changes for two weeks.

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