The Barrow County Board of Education gave tentative approval Tuesday, June 1, of the school district’s proposed “other funds” budget, marking the latest step toward eventual approval of an overall budget later this month.
The proposed $68.55 million “other funds” budget includes $30.8 million in capital-improvement expenses, with $9.5 million slated to go toward prep work for new facilities at the district’s Austin Road property and $8.5 million to be poured into renovations at existing facilities.
The district anticipates receiving $16.3 million in federal funds (not counting school food and nutrition funds), including $7.4 million in remaining CARES Act funding and $2.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding. That money from the latest federal stimulus is part of an overall projected $19.9 million allotment for the district, which must be spent by Sept. 30, 2023.
The district plans to make up a $13 million gap between “other funds” expenses and revenues with the use of reserve money.
The “other funds” budget is in addition to the nearly $142.9 million proposed General Fund budget that board gave tentative approval of last month. The district held its first of two scheduled public hearings on the budget Tuesday morning but didn’t receive any public comments, according to Jennifer Houston, assistant superintendent for business services. The second hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 16 at the district’s professional development center on West Athens Street in Winder.
There also three scheduled public hearings on the proposed millage rate, which the board has tentatively approved to remain at 18.5 mills, meaning a 4.89% increase on property taxes. Those hearings are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. June 10 and 1 p.m. June 21. A final vote on the budget and millage rate is slated for the board’s June 22 meeting.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
•approved guaranteed maximum prices of $7 million for pre-grading work at the district’s Austin Road property for a future elementary school, new middle school and athletic facilities, and $2 million for pre-grading of a smaller section of the campus for the second phase of Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy (BASA).
•approved the purchase of 150 Goalbook Toolkit licenses to provide guidance to special-education teachers working with specialized student populations. The cost is $75,863 and will be paid for with federal funds. Superintendent Chris McMichael clarified that the district would be purchasing 150 licenses instead of the 250 total that district officials had cited last week.
•approved several other consent-agenda items that were discussed at the board’s May 25 work session, including purchases of iPads, audio equipment and furniture for various schools and a proposal to offer the course “Personal Financial Literacy” as a social studies elective at the district’s high schools starting in the 2021-22 academic year.
•heard from Houston that the district collected just under $1.4 million in ELOST proceeds in May.
•recognized the “Barrow’s BEST” winners for classified employees of the year in five different categories — Steve Hall (service employees), Mary Maples (school nutrition), Teri Head (support personnel), Melissa Courtney (transportation) and Amy Dew (contributing professionals).
•recognized BASA 10th-grader Alyssa Holdcroft for being a Northeast Georgia RESA level winner in the 2020-21 Young Georgia Authors writing competition. The board also recognized the grade-level winners K-12 across the school system.