Gwinnett school board adopts 2019 budget, sets millage rate

Gwinnett County Schools adopted a $2.2 billion budget for FY2019. CONTRIBUTED

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The Gwinnett County Board of Education on May 17 adopted the fiscal year 2019 budget in the total amount of 2,193,188,915 as presented by Superintendent J. Alfred Willbanks and tentatively adopted by the board on April 12.

The school board also set a tentative millage rate of 21.75 mills —19.8 mill for maintenance and operation and 1.95 mills for debt service to support the FY2019 budget. The board will adopt the final millage rate in June.

Based on the Gwinnett County Tax Assessor’s current property tax digest estimates for 2018, this reflects a decrease of .10 mills for the debt service millage rate from the current year. The school board’s final adoption of the maintenance and operations and debt service millage rates will occur this summer.

The proposed General Fund, which represents 77.8 percent of the total budget and funds the primary day-to-day operations of the school district, accounts for $1.706 billion of the total. This represents a 5.19 percent increase in the General Fund that can be attributed to salary improvements, mandated employer benefit increases, and costs associated with an increase in the number of students served.

Here’s a breakdown of increased costs:

For FY2019, GCPS must account for increases in the area of employee salary and benefits:

  • Additional salary and benefit costs of about $12.2 million will be incurred to fund the 128 additional teacher/instructional support positions needed to accommodate expected enrollment growth of 1,054 students and the opening of one new high school.
  • Increases in employer benefit costs will add approximately $52.8 million in expenses for the district. All full-time employees will receive a 2.25 percent cost-of-living increase at a cost of $24.8 million.
  • A salary step increase for all eligible employees will cost approximately $17.4 million. Nearly all (96 percent) of current teachers are expected to get a salary step increase.

Other improvements:

  • Funding for 10 additional School Resource Officers;
  • Increase in daily rates of pay for substitute paraprofessionals;
  • Additional technology support positions for local schools;
  • Funding to establish a Junior Achievement Academy at Parkview High School;
  • Additional support for special education, psychological services, and curriculum and instruction.
  • Expansion of the Student Mentoring Program to serve Hispanic students;
  • The following budget-cutting measures will remain in place:
  • School staffing allocation formulas are unchanged. Schools will continue to receive positions to accommodate student growth. Average student: teacher ratios will remain consistent with the current school year.
  • Central office operating budgets will remain relatively the same and vacant district positions will remain unfilled to the extent possible.