Gwinnett schools plan increased budget, not tax rate

Although Gwinnett County Public Schools has presented a budget for next year with an increase of more than $44 million, it isn’t expecting an increase in taxes, according to school district chief financial officer Joe Heffron.

The Board of Education met Saturday to discuss the $2.183 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year. A preliminary adoption of the budget is scheduled April 12 at the District V area board meeting at Berkmar High School. Public hearings on the budget are set May 10 and 17 at the district office. The final budget and a tentative millage rate are expected to be adopted May 17. The final millage rate is expected to be adopted in July.

More property-tax revenue is projected for the fifth consecutive year, after annual declines for fiscal years 2010 through 2014. Property values are projected to increase by 4 percent, generating an additional $22 million in tax revenue in fiscal 2019.

Other highlights include:

• Projected student growth of 1,054 will bring approximately $9 million in state revenue, and 87 additional teacher positions.

• All eligible employees will receive a cost-of-living increase of 1.5 percent. That raise will cost the school system $17.4 million. The state will fund $7.8 million. The beginning teacher salary will be $43,326, and the average Gwinnett County teacher will make $61,627. According to the proposed salary schedule, that’s someone with a master’s degree and 13 years seniority.

• The Gwinnett Retirement System, the district’s alternative to Social Security, will increase by $16 million, and state health insurance premiums for non-certificated employees, about 6,200, will cost GCPS an additional $3.6 million. Those employees are typically cafeteria workers, bus drivers and central office personnel.

• The district plans to add five school resource officers, additional technology support positions, additional operational and maintenance support for building and ground maintenance, and additional support for special education, psychological services, and curriculum and instruction.