SUWANEE -- Leaders with Gwinnett County Public Schools continued discussions about a projected $1.7 billion Fiscal Year 2013 budget early Saturday morning.
The work session preceded three other meetings to be held before the board commits to approving the budget in May.
Representing a $5.8 million decrease from the previous year, the projections anticipate no layoffs, maintaining a hiring freeze and the continuation of two furlough days a year. FY 2013 predictions also assume the continued trend of slower enrollment growth.
The board of education also discussed a projected $89 million shortfall stemming from a combination of declining local tax revenue and diminished federal stimulus dollars.
Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said that over the past several years the district has continued taking steps to tighten its belt.
"Over the last four years, we have made severe cuts," Wilbanks said. "We feel we will be able to get by. However, if anything goes south ... the only way we'll be able to present a balanced budget is through people and programs."
To balance the budget, the school board plans to increase most class sizes by two students, leave vacant nearly 600 positions in the district and 54 positions in the central office and make 2.5 percent reductions to all operating budgets.
In cost-savings, the district expects about $21.6 million in additional state revenue due primarily to growth. Also, a reduction in payment to charter schools will save about $2 million. It's a result of the board's denial of local charter school Ivy Prep Academy's petition for the following year.
In addition, a reduction in employer contributions to the Gwinnett Retirement System will result in about $19 million in savings.
Board Member Robert McClure said despite the cuts and additional revenues realized to offset the projected FY2013 budget, he was "reluctant to tell people that we're doing the same job as before and just as effectively."
Public hearings for the budget are scheduled for May 10 and 17. After the public hearings, the board could vote to approve the FY2013 budget.
Another work session is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Duluth High School.