School system looks at bigger budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Instructional staff, training proposed

By Matthew Strother

LaGRANGE — The Troup County School System is looking at adding new instructors and teaching resources for the next fiscal year as it considers a nearly $3 million budget increase over last year.

The majority of the expected additional funds, about $1.2 million, will go into instruction. Plans are to add teachers, especially in gifted classes, along with paraprofessionals in alternative classrooms and for reading instruction, said Byron Jones, school system CFO, during a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday. Additions to custodial positions and “one or two” school administrative positions and other resources are also proposed, with the maintenance and operations budget set to increase by $213,361 and school administration by $409,973 over last year.

The system also will continue focus on bolstering technology and staff training, with proposed increases of $222,006 and $508,825 in those categories respectively.

Much of the expected additional revenue will come from $2.8 million in additional state-allocated funds. Since 2002, the school system’s state funding was continually cut by austerity reductions. Gov. Nathan Deal ordered some of the cuts to be returned this year, which will account for about $1.8 million locally.

“It’s not new money, it’s just money we haven’t had for 15 years,” Jones said.

The remaining $1 million of the $2.8 million is expected to come from the state’s equalization funding, a formula based on taxable property value per student. The funding has fluctuated over the last few years and, at one point, the system’s equalization funds dropped by $4 million, Jones noted. This year, however, it is expected to increase by $1 million over last year’s funding.

The majority of the school system’s funding comes from the state with about $58.6 million expected this year and local taxes accounting for about $42 million, the same as last year.

In total, the tentative budget proposes $101,111,817 in revenue with $102,111,817 in expenses, with the $1 million deficit to come from the system’s $23 million reserve. Jones noted the system last year had additional revenue go into reserve, notably $1 million for the sale of West Side Magnet School to LaGrange College.

“Keep in mind the state recommends a certain amount in reserve budget, and we’re actually exceeding that right now,” Jones said.

The Board of Education is expected to tentatively adopt the budget during its regular meeting Thursday, which will give staff authority to go forward with advertising the budget as it stands, but not officially adopt the budget. The final budget will be presented for formal adoption at the board’s June meeting, set for June 16.

The Board of Education meets at the Troup County School System Administrative Services Center, 100 N. Davis Road, building C in LaGrange.

Other items the board is expected to consider Thursday are:

• Renewal of an annual license agreement and support costs for Software Systems Unlimited Inc. financial accounting system at a cost of $50,600. To be paid from the school system’s general funds.

• Paying $69,605 to Edgenuity for a subscription renewal for e2020, an online instructional tool used for credit recovery at Troup, LaGrange and Callaway high schools and HOPE Academy. It is an intervention program to assist in getting students “back on track” for promotion and graduation, states school system documents. To be paid from school system budgeted technology and software funds.

• Approving $150,000 to pay for the yearly contract to Troup County Board of Commissioners for the services of resource officers at Callaway High School, Callaway Middle School and Long Cane Middle School for the next school year. To be paid from school system general funds.

• Approving Mauldin & Jenkins CPA, LLC to perform the fiscal year 2016 financial audit and Education SPLOST 4 performance review at a cost of $44,000. To be paid from general funds.

• Paying $350,000 to Hutchinson Traylor Insurance as the liability and automobile insurance carrier for fiscal year 2017. To be paid from general funds.

• Renewal contract with Aramark Management Services Limited Partnership in the amount of $374,803.23 plus the lesser of the applicable Employment Cost Index or 3 percent for contracted custodial management services. To be paid from system maintenance and operations general funds.

• Approving purchase orders with G & K Services for uniform services for a total $29,500 for the transportation, custodial and maintenance departments. To be paid from budgeted funds.

• Approve a bid of $898,572.26 for Hawkins Oil Company to continue to be the system’s fuel provider for diesel and gasoline from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. To be paid from budgeted transportation funds.

• Paying $55,491.68 to North Georgia Tire for new tires for autos, trucks and buses from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. Also, in a separate contract, $16,216.44 to the company for bus, truck and auto re-tread tires for the same period. Both would be paid from budgeted transportation funds.

Matthew Strother is editor of the LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-883-7311, ext. 2153.