SUWANEE -- Looking at the next fiscal year, leaders with the Gwinnett County Board of Education said they want teachers to stay positive despite possibilities of further budget cuts.
Chief Human Resources Officer Frances Davis said she can understand the frustration of district employees.
"You have morale issues from teachers who are concerned about the economic environment that educators are facing," said Davis Thursday during the monthly work session. "They've not had a raise in four or five years ... but great leaders continue to engage our staff, and we're doing our best to support them. We will get through these tough times."
Despite tough times, the district voted Thursday night to give some employees a little good news.
After learning from the district's chief finance officer Thursday that 2012 property tax collections have come in slightly above the amount anticipated, the board voted to use $4.3 million to give all full-time employees with benefit-eligibility a one-time salary adjustment.
Every eligible employee will receive a salary adjustment in the amount equal to one full day's earnings at his or her current daily rate. It will be paid in a lump sum in November. The average GCPS teacher will receive about $300 in a one-time payment.
School Board member Carole Boyce said she was "so thrilled to give a little funding to show a little appreciation to our people. They give so much each and every day. It is nice to be able to be recognized for something you do."
Rick Cost, the district's chief financial officer, delivered the news about the extra tax revenue. He also spoke with board members during the work session earlier Thursday regarding the current fiscal year budget.
He said that, so far, the district has not exceeded its expenditures for FY 2013.
Special purpose local option sales tax collections have been coming in at about mid-level projections, the general fund budget remains at about $100 million and local revenue has not declined by as much as he had anticipated.
"For this year we are confident we will bring in some extra tax revenue ... possibly about $4.5 million," Cost said. "All sources for the current budget are trending at or above budgeting."
The board seemed pleased with the current numbers but wary of the future.
School board member Dan Seckinger said the district has "an enormous challenge in doing something to continue to boost morale ... the way things have transpired recently. That's a great concern of mine."
He referenced the state's Qualified Basic Education formula, which according to a report prepared by district staff, has caused $632.4 million in reductions to GCPS since 2003.
The austerity cuts are one item that the board plans to discuss with state leaders Dec. 3 during the annual 2013 Legislative Program at Rhodes Jordan Park in Lawrenceville.
The annual meeting gives GCPS board members and staff a chance to stress their priorities to visitors from the Capitol.
Among other items listed for discussion:
-- The board's requests to maintain local control in the areas of local revenue sources, charter schools, curriculum and calendar.
-- Fiscal and school improvement initiatives such as tax reform, tax exemptions, Race to the Top, vision for public education in Georgia and health benefits costs.