The $836 million budget proposed by Superintendent Robert Avossa is 0.6 percent lower than last year with no increase in property taxes, a 3 percent salary increase for employees and a 10 percent increase in academic and athletic expenditures.
The budget also accommodates enrollment growth, rising health care costs and retirement contributions.
No furlough days are included for employees, and if the suggested 18.502 millage rate is approved later this spring, there will be no millage increase for homeowners.
In the proposed budget, instruction – at nearly 67 percent of the general fund – remains the largest allocation of the proposed budget, with the remaining 33 percent budgeted for pupil transportation, maintenance and operations, and other administrative functions.
The proposed fiscal 2014 budget was developed using a process called “modified zero-based budgeting,” which requires the budget to be developed from the bottom up and based on demonstrated need rather than just approving incremental increases or decreases.
“Zero-based budgeting required our school system to align its funding requests to district priorities,” Avossa said in a statement. “Department heads presented their budgets, and our cabinet evaluated each item closely so we would be sure that every request directly tied to the priorities and that every taxpayer dollar would be spent as it should.”
Decreased state and federal funding combined with an increase in local fair share funding have made funds tighter for school systems, and in response, Fulton tightened its belt over the past several years and implemented cost saving measures, such as increased class sizes, according to schools spokeswoman Samantha Evans.
However, the fiscal 2014 proposed budget keeps class sizes the same as last year.
The school board will review the budget again this month. Tentative approval is slated for May 16. Final approval will occur in June.