Barrow BOE to vote on budget

WINDER - The 2007-08 Barrow County Schools budget, in which expenditures exceed revenues by $4.3 million, will be up for a vote Tuesday.

The budget includes a 3 percent raise for every school system employee.

The school system plans to spend more money than it will bring in, although a mid-year adjustment could correct most of that shortfall, said Ken Cato, assistant superintendent of business services.

Planners have budgeted $91.1 million to spend, although incoming cash totals $87.6 million, leaving the school system short by $4.3 million.

"We are budgeting salaries for teachers for the year based on projected growth, increased enrollment," Cato said. "If that growth happens, we will get a mid-term adjustment of about $3 million, which will cover the shortfall, except for about $1 million. The adjustment is not budgeted."

The school system has $5.1 million in reserves and can dip into that, if need be.

"While we are concerned about large expenditures over revenue, we do have a plan to cover it," Cato said.

No tax increase,

district adding teachers and counselors

Though the budget falls short, school board members plan no layoffs or a tax increase, Cato said. The millage rate will remain at 18.5 mills. Under the state constitution, the millage rate could go as high as 20 mills.

Taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by the millage. A mill is one-tenth of one cent.

The school system expects to collect $33 million in property taxes.

In the upcoming school year, the district will spend the most money, $37.9 million, on teachers' salaries. The district is adding 70 new teachers and four middle school graduation coaches.

"The graduation coaches were proposed by the state," Cato said. "They identify at-risk students and keep them on track."

Where the money comes from and how it is spent

Sixty-nine percent of the total budget will be spent on instruction, including salaries, textbooks and educational materials.

The least amount of money, $398,623, will be spent on the human resources department.

The largest source of cash for the school system comes from state quality basic education funds at $53.1 million.

"We started working on the budget early, in March, and we worked through some difficult issues," Cato said. "We wish we could give everything everybody wants, but we had to make choices. We have limited resources."