The five board members voted unanimously to approve a $318 million general fund budget, up 9 percent from $293 million in 2013.
“The adoption of this budget comes at the right time for our school system and supports, recognizes and honors the great work of our school system employees as we endured a lengthy history of financially challenging budget cycles,” Superintendent Rodney Bowler said in a statement. “It is with great appreciation to the Henry County Board of Education that they adopted a budget that supports a step increase for all employees, no furlough days and three additional professional learning days for teachers.”
Bowler said sound stewardship by the school board combined with prudent planning and management in coordination with the school system’s financial services department enabled Henry County Schools to weather the storm of financial cutbacks while resorting to as few modifications to the budget as possible.
Through it all, the fund balance, or reserve, for the school district was used sparingly in order to maintain its full availability in the event of a far worse financial setback.
“It remains healthy and is a good indicator of a school system’s financial sustainability,” schools spokesman J.D. Hardin said in a statement about the $55 million reserve.
The upcoming school year will see all employees receive raises for the first time in over five years.
“No furlough days might also seem like a raise to many, as a full paycheck coupled with a step increase will serve as a double positive for employees,” Hardin said.
With the Georgia General Assembly passing a budget full of increases for public education and local tax revenues on the rise for the first time in five years, the revenue forecast for the school system allowed for an increase to the budget.
Another positive outcome as a result of the budget includes the hiring of more teachers to help decrease class sizes and provide smaller student-to-teacher ratios.
The district was able to hold its first teacher job fair this spring in anticipation of the increase in student population and projected revenues for the upcoming school year.
“I am very excited about what the future holds for each student we serve,” Bowler said. “The strength of our adopted budget will contribute greatly toward ensuring their success.”
Henry County Schools will open the 2014-15 school year Aug. 4.
There will be one additional school this upcoming year as Hampton High School will become the 10th traditional high school in the district.
Local taxes contribute about one-third of the revenue for the school system’s general fund budget, which pays for the system’s day-to-day expenses, while the state provides nearly all the rest.
-Instruction, $224 million
-School administration, $22 million
-Maintenance and operations, $30 million
-Buses, $16 million