Gomez pointed out that Gwinnett employs 96 in-school police officers and funds a safety and security budget of $10 million.
Other funding requests include cost-saving measures for the health benefits plan. The state currently provides no funding for employees other than teachers who elect health insurance coverage the district provides, according to the district. Gwinnett paid $67 million for this expenditure in fiscal year 2019 and costs are rising every year.
“While health insurance is a needed component of running an effective school system, we are concerned with the extenuating costs and are asking for some relief in that area,” said Gomez.
While early learning initiatives are a growing concern across the state, Gomez pointed out that lottery funding supports pre-K learning for a limited number of students. Gwinnett will urge the Legislature to review the research on the impact of early learning programs and provide the fiscal resources needed to implement effective programs and practices.
With Gwinnett short more than 100 bus drivers to date, the school district is urging the General Assembly to fund pupil transportation at a level that eliminates the gap between state-allotted funding and the actual costs. According to Gwinnett records, it will receive $5.8 million this fiscal year for transportation, which costs the school system $91 million. That breaks down to a 6.4% contribution.
New this year, Gwinnett is seeking clarity on an issue that arose last year: allowing retired teachers to return to teaching full time.
“There is the issue of funding the teacher retirement system, and some work needs to be done in that area,” said Gomez.
Currently, teachers aren’t allowed to work more than 1,000 hours a year at a Georgia public school under the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia. Also, they must wait at least one month before coming back as an independent contractor or any other agreement.
Retired teachers are allowed to work full time at private schools, schools in other states, other positions in the private sector, self employment and temporary employment for a Georgia public school for a maximum of three months in a fiscal year.
Another priority is opposition to vouchers and tuition tax credits, said Roach.
Board member Louise Radloff indicated that she wants to add funding for mental health counselors.
And board member Everton Blair asked about constituent input.
“We gather input throughout the course of the year,” said Gomez. “We get feedback from the different schools at area board meetings — if there is a concern from constituents we try to find a way to work it into the priorities.”