School board approves tentative budget

DULUTH -- Following a work session Tuesday night at Duluth High School, the Gwinnett County Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt a tentative $1.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013.

The decision came following the second of two work sessions regarding the upcoming final budget adoption, which is slated for a vote following two public hearings 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 continued to discuss a projected $89 million shortfall stemming from a combination of declining local tax revenue and diminished federal stimulus dollars.

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 slash all operating budgets by 2.5 percent.

District staff 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.