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Budget proposal includes increased lunch prices, more officers

SUWANEE -- Describing the local district's projected Fiscal Year 2014 budget, Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost said Gwinnett County Public Schools is in better shape than the current year, "but we're not out of the woods."

During a meeting with the media Tuesday, Cost explained that within the framework of the total projected $1.7 billion FY 2014 budget, overall, "declines are getting less, which means things are getting better, but we're still losing local revenue, still having austerity reductions from the state, and the local tax revenue is decreasing less."

At a decrease of $12.8 million over the current year's budget, the total budget accounts for special revenue, capital projects, debt service, enterprise and internal service funds.

Within the total budget is also $1.2 billion earmarked for the general fund or the operations budget. The projection for the general fund is an increase of $29.7 million over the current year.

The projected FY 2014 budget included "recommended improvements," an uncommon line item within the past several years.

Recommendations included the elimination of all furlough days, which will cost $8.6 million and the addition of 18 additional school resource officers -- one for every cluster -- at $1.7 million.

Measures recommended by the superintendent to balance the projected FY 2014 budget include the continuation of a district-level hiring freeze; no restoration of the 54 central office positions eliminated during FY 2013; continuation of the district-level operating budget cuts from the past four years; carryover expenditures included in the FY 2013 mid-term budget; and class size ratios for teacher "point" allotments will remain the same for the 2013-14 school year.

In order to balance the enterprise fund, which reflects GCPS school nutrition program, the superintendent is recommending a 25-cent increase in meal prices next year. New lunch prices will be $2.25 for elementary and $2.50 for middle and high school. The prices are still "well within the metro area averages," Cost said.

Cost estimated an additional decline of 2.5 percent or $10.3 million at the current millage rate of 19.25 mills. "It's a much slower decline than what we've seen in the past, which we think is a positive."

Over the past five years, a 26-percent decline in tax digest value has meant a loss of $143 million in annual property tax revenue.

Cost said it's "too early to talk about a millage rate. We won't know until May when the county gives us their digest."

It's been eight years since the district has approved a millage rate increase.

The district's equalization grant funding from the state is projected to increase by $21.8 million over the previous year for a total of about $65 million for FY 2014. It's due, Cost said, to "our local property tax digest wealth continuing to decline more rapidly than the state-wide average."

Cost said current projections predict an enrollment increase of 1,690 students for a total of 166,667 students, which would mean the district would be spending $7,548 per student, an increase of $102 per student over the previous year.

Nothing is yet set in stone. The Gwinnett County Public Schools board of education plans to approve a version of the budget in May. On Saturday, elected leaders and district staff plan to hold a work session to discuss details of the document.

Comments

kevin 1 year, 4 months ago

Quote:"Cost said current projections predict an enrollment increase of 1,690 students for a total of 166,667 students, which would mean the district would be spending $7,548 per student, an increase of $102 per student over the previous year." I wonder how this compares with tuition at a "private" school. I bet it is pretty close and look what your kids get by going to a private school (educated and disciplined)

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Why_not 1 year, 4 months ago

Greater Atlanta Christian School tuition is $16,900 a year for grades 6-12. Slightly higher I would think.

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Karl 1 year, 4 months ago

Replying to kevin is akin to talking to a stump. I'm sorry if I offended any stumps reading this website.

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NorcrossDot 1 year, 4 months ago

Agree with Kevin. Most can't perform on jobs. Can't spell due to phonics. Can't read, can't write correctly. Etc, Etc,

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SurelyNot 1 year, 4 months ago

@Kevin...Why_Not gave you GAC's tuition. Look up Providence, Lovett, Westminster, Pace...that $7000+ is no where in the ball park.

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Why_not 1 year, 4 months ago

I have figured out that Kevin is unhappy no matter what is spent by Gwinnett County. He must assume that the government and school system run themselves. I worked for the county for 30 years and there is no doubt in my mind that Gwinnett is one of the most efficiently run counties anywhere. Can corners be cut to save money? I am sure, but overall compared to other metro counties, our government is efficient. Compare our property taxes to more rural counties and for the services we receive we are getting a bargain.

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NorcrossDot 1 year, 4 months ago

I've lived in Gwinnett County more than 30 years and they are right in there with the usual inapt government organizations. Maybe a little more corrupt than some. Efficient? Not even close.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 4 months ago

I've lived here a lot longer than you, and I've never seen any evidence of corruption. Take care about what you write. You may not agree with how money is spent; you make think you could do better, but to state something for which you have no evidence is corrupt in itself.

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Say_that_again 1 year, 4 months ago

Though I must agree that NorcrossDot does exaggerate and has very few facts on her side, let's not go too far in the other direction. Remember Kennerly? And then this: http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news.... And of course the current investigations into Beaudreau: http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news... - who, admittedly, might not be guilty. Still not indication that is more corrupt than some.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

@Say_that_again. You are totally correct with regard to county gov. I was really thinking of the school board since this is what the article was about, so I apologize. My correction: There has never been a hint that the Bd or Ed is corrupt, much less evidence to that effect.

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Say_that_again 1 year, 3 months ago

my apologies. I should have realized that your reference was GCPS.

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

People who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones Why_not. The very fact that you worked for the county for 30 years explains a lot. The amount I pay in Property Taxes here is absurd compared to my other properties elsewhere. Bargain? Our local government is littered with inefficiencies and scandal and self-centered selfish politicians and employees. Government efficiency is an oxymoron (with the emphasis on "moron"). You don't have to cut corners to save money. You only have to cut inefficiencies. Cutting corners cost us more money. But what puzzles me more than anything else is the willingness of people like you to hand them even more money to squander when they have proven time and again that they cannot be good stewards of the money they already have now.

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

...and one other thing.

The meals in GCPS aren't worth 50 Cents, let alone $2.50. Have any of you tried to eat and digest this crap? Nonetheless, with over 50% of the student population on free or reduced lunch (and that's for the afluent Mill Creek Cluster, so I can only imagine what it is for other school districts), the entire school lunch program is a fraud.

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GwinnettGirl 1 year, 4 months ago

There will just be more applications for free/reduced lunches. And with very few of these applications scrutinized, checked & verified, more will be on the free/reduced program. So they won't make that much extra by raising the lunch prices. Now, if there was someone in charge of verifying all the information on these applications, it would be amazing how many truly qualify.

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NorcrossDot 1 year, 4 months ago

Agree however the lunch program has been "crap" for a very long time. Another example of government inefficiency.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 4 months ago

Lunches are not as good as they were, but that has nothing to do with f/r entitlements. It has to do with Michelle Obama's lunch program that went into effect this year. For the several years prior, when I ate with the kids at school I was amazed at how good it was. Listen, I was a public school kid. Don't tell me it is worse (well maybe this year it is). I know better. But our food service workers can do amazing and good things with what they have if government will stay out of it.

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

Are you serious? The lunches have been crap for at least a decade since I've eaten them with my children. I know better too! What is your measuring criteria for what constitutes good food, a Happy Meal?

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

Actually, no. Ever eaten the Asian Bites, the watermelon, feta, basil salad, the barbeque sliders? Salad bars? Fresh salad and fresh fruit?? I have no idea if they are served this year or not.

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Haughton 1 year, 3 months ago

Ironic that finally you remembered. That menu is an exact copy of the GCPS menu featured weekly here. Hmm

All public school cafeteria food has been awful for years, Ask any cafeteria manger and they will tell you that they have no control over what is served but have had in the past. It has been described as prison inmates getting better than our school children. They stopped serving even 2% milk, replaced with fat free is often loaded with more sugars. Kids still need fats in small quatities for fuel and brain development. They will also tell you that much of what served is thrown in the garbage.

There should be no free - reduced lunch. If these families truely qualify, they are already given subsidies by way of EBT cards to pay for food for their children. This is doubling dipping and should not be allowed. The percentage of free - reduced lunch just means more federal monies, Title I, and a benchmark for section 8 type housing.

Taxpayers are being cheated multiple times for basically the same things. But it is all for the poor children, so we get branded with hateful politically correct names if we as taxpayers complain in the slightest.

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CitizenSally 1 year, 4 months ago

You can always bring your lunch.

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BuzzG 1 year, 4 months ago

Wilbanks needs to recover that money he gifted to the Chamber of Commerce. It is our money, not his money.

I wouldn't mind paying more for education if we got more. But our Gwinnett public schools are not doing a good job. Colleges state that nearly half of our high school graduates need to take remedial math and remedial English. And sadly, many of the kids sitting in the remedial classes are in college on Hope scholarships. Talk about grade inflation.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

Wonder why so many go to the top schools in the US? Wonder why so many get military appointments? Wonder why GC students get millions and millions of dollars in sholarships excluding the HOPE? Wonder why you are so negative? Always on the schools' rear end with no reason. You must have not graduated very high or gone to a competitive school.

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Why_not 1 year, 3 months ago

I have noticed that most of the people that comment here are extremely negative no matter the issue. I can only imagine how terrible their lives must be since they are so pessimistic all the time. If I hated this county as bad as they do, I would have left many years ago.

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NewsReader 1 year, 3 months ago

Because the glass is half full. The problem is, you don't have any sense of taste or smell, let alone any sense at all, to distinguish that which you are drinking isn't what you were told. And where do you get off with "...If I hated this country as bad as they do..."? It is because of our love for our country that we object to the persistent barrage of stupidity that has taken over our country. Did you lose your sign?

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

@NewsReader: Perhaps some of us are happier with a glass half full...but to live in such a negative world would truly be the glass more than half empty. And to say you do the negative thing for your love of country,,,give me a break. You are the negative person many would not want to sit with at lunch. Or by in church. Talk about a barrage of stupidity. I have read your comments in here and if anyone is stupid .. well perhaps you can recognize that easily... When people write facts that cannot be ignored, you maintain a negative stance. Try some openmindedness.

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NewsReader 1 year, 3 months ago

Nowhere did I say that I "...do the negative thing for your[my] love of country ..." you idiot. This is another example of why we label people like you as "stupid". Yes, I recognize a barrage of stupidity every time you post one of your idiotic messages.

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Dacula2012 1 year, 4 months ago

Public school price per child vs the following; Hebron Christian Academy $7850 Saint John Neumann $7020 George Walton Academy $8850 100percent 4 yr college acceptance Killian Hill Christian $8300-$9050

We should be checking the test scores, graduation rates, and achievements from these students vs GCPS. Then again, the administrators need new luxury cars for their parking lots. It's never about the child.

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LoganvilleResident 1 year, 3 months ago

This is not even a remotely accurate comparison. The fact that you hold it out to be speaks volumes. Just a few reasons why....

  1. Private schools hand pick the children they educate. Public schools educate all children.

  2. Private schools can expel non-performers while public schools do not.

  3. Private schools tend to have a higher socioeconomic status compared to public schools. There is a proven correlation between socioeconomic class and school performance.

These are just a few reasons your comparison is not valid. The list goes on. I am very pleased with my child's education with GCPS.

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Why_not 1 year, 3 months ago

My children did very well in GCPS also. Both attained bachelor degrees, and one of them is now close to getting a masters.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

Consider the tuitions of the private schools that compete with Gwinnett's schools. Look at the data on the % of seniors taking AP classes, passing with a grade of 3 or above, the % of students getting non-HOPE scholarships, the quality of fine arts, higher sccience and math, and foreign language offerings etc. You will find the tuition of those schools to be considerably higher than what you have quoted here.

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Haughton 1 year, 3 months ago

Our family has been very pleased with the children's GCPS education. Happy to say they are all doing extremely well in college and beyond. I credit GCPS and my wife, an educator within the system, for their success.

There are quiet rumblings about GCPS and the future. Gwinnett has changed too rapidly in a different direction and it is catching up and hurting our schools. Don't be suprised if a APS or Debalb type scandal hits hard. Too close for comfort and we are too big to be as successful as we still are. Watch.

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