The Barrow County Board of Education approved on Tuesday, May 4, a tentative Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund budget of $142.86 million, an increase of just under $10 million from the current fiscal year’s General Fund budget.

According to projections presented to the board last month by Jennifer Houston, assistant superintendent for business services, the school district would bring in $45.7 million in local tax revenue — roughly $950,000 more than FY2021 — due to growth in the county’s tax digest, assuming the board votes to keep the school millage rate at 18.5 mills, where it has been since 2007. The district is also projecting an additional $8.7 million in state QBE funding due to less drastic cuts than last year, when the coronavirus pandemic had a harsh effect on state budgeting, Houston said.

Houston projected $146.75 million in expenditures, but the General Fund would be balanced by covering $3.9 million in custodial, technology and academic-support services with federal COVID-19 relief funds the district has received and will receive over the next two years, she said. District officials have proposed keeping the district’s reserves the same at $36.7 million.

Under the district’s proposed General Fund spending plan, $1.65 million would be spent for an annual local step increase for eligible certified and classified employees. Teachers would get a $1,466 local supplement increase (including salary and benefits).

The district would add 5.5 net new teaching positions across various departments and would also increase spending on textbooks, reading materials, and math and science supplies.

Under the district’s proposed calendar, the board will vote on the “other funds” budget at its June 1 meeting, and public hearings on the total budget have been scheduled for 10 a.m. June 9 and 6 p.m. June 16 at the district’s professional development center on West Athens Street.

A final vote to approve the FY22 budget has been scheduled for June 22, and the new fiscal year will begin July 1.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday, the board:

•heard from Houston that the school district set a record in ELOST receipts in April, bringing in $1.46 million in revenues. Houston credited the new round of federal stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan for aiding in those collections.

•approved the use of $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to remove carpet from additional schools this summer, including Winder-Barrow High School, Bear Creek Middle School and Haymon-Morris Middle School. The carpet will be replaced with vinyl tile, which Joe Perno, assistant superintendent for system operations, said is easier to maintain.

•approved the purchase of three 72-passenger buses without air-conditioning from Rush Enterprises and two new 48-passenger special-needs buses with air-conditioning from Peach State Truck Center for a total cost of $462,770.

•approved a contract for copier services with Standard Office Systems of Duluth in the amount of $247,127 per year.

•awarded a $74,384 bid to TechOptics of Winder for new data cabling at Holsenbeck Elementary School. The board also awarded a $12,995 bid to Powerlink Technologies of Winder for low-voltage data cabling at Auburn Elementary.

•accepted the proposed total cost of $112,661 for classroom furniture for the new wing at Westside Middle School.

•accepted a $41,461 bid from Georgia Institutional Furnishing to refresh shelving at the Apalachee High School media center as part of summer renovations planned at the school.

•recognized the 2021 STAR students and teachers at Apalachee and Winder-Barrow high schools. The Apalachee STAR student and teacher are Ishan Patel and Jessica Kight, and the Winder-Barrow STAR student and teacher are Madison Ann-Marie Reeves and Jessica Steedley.

•recognized WBHS senior Mallory Fields for receiving this year’s Peach State Federal Credit Union Dan Cromer Scholarship Award. The scholarship is named for the former Barrow County superintendent and school board member, who died in February.

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