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School leaders discuss budget

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.

Comments

Gwinnettsince1991 2 years, 5 months ago

It would appear, as it has for the last 5 years, that the only person who has a pay increase in the person overseeing this massive budget deficit. No pay increase, more students per class, less money for retirement. n

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BenDover 2 years, 5 months ago

It's a wonder Wilbanks still has his job. If he was in the private sector, he would have been let go. Taking a pay raise, like he has is greedy on his part. It's hard to work for someone, when he asks for us to do more with less and he gets more $. On one hand he takes a two furlough days and on the other he gets a raise. People must be afraid of him and do not stand up for whats right. Alvin, take a pay cut and show the citizens of this county that you are a good leader....otherwise, quit taking money from us and move on....

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Karl 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree. Even though Wilbanks and crew have not taken Gwinnett down the same corrupt path as some of the other metro-area systems have gone, he is not irreplacable.

I think it's time for someone new to take the lead, but Wilbanks has the school board eating out of the palm of his hand. He tells them to jump and the board's only response is, 'How high?"

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