School board dissects projected $1.7 billion budget

SUWANEE -- As stated recently by the school district's chief financial officer, things are looking up, but they're not out of the woods yet.

During a work session early Saturday to discuss the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, officials with Gwinnett County Public Schools talked numbers.

"We have had several years of challenging budgets," said Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. "This one wasn't quite as challenging, but it wasn't all good news either."

A projected $1.7 billion FY 2014 budget includes $1.2 billion earmarked for the general fund or the operations budget. Projections for the general fund mark an increase of $29.7 million over the current year.

The projected FY 2014 budget included "recommended improvements" such as 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.

Said Wilbanks: "We are extremely pleased we can present a balanced budget that does provide for a couple of improvement items that will be much appreciated by those that work with us and those in general."

Measures recommended by the superintendent to balance the budget include the continuation of a district-level hiring freeze; no restoration of 54 central office positions eliminated during FY 2013; continuation of 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 regards to the measures, board member Robert McClure complimented district and school staff.

"We could not have gotten to where we were without very conservative, intelligent financial planning," McClure said. "Contrary to popular thought, (school staff and administrators) have not whined a lot. It's because they know it's tough times. I give them credit for being willing to tough it out in hard times."

It is still unknown whether the school board will seek an increase of the millage rate.

Rick Cost has estimated an additional decline of 2.5 percent or $10.3 million at the current millage rate of 19.25 mills.

"Once we determine what the actual tax digest is, then we'll be able to determine what millage rate we need to generate enough revenue," Cost said.

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

On May 16, the board plans a tentative millage rate adoption.

At 6 p.m. April 16, the board plans to hold another work session and may tentatively adopt a version of the budget. The meeting is in the Meadowcreek High School Band Room.


kevin 1 year, 8 months ago

Wish their Board can tell us why it costs the taxpayer on average $7,600 a year to educate a student while you can get into a private school for that or less. I do not feel for this country's education system when they have to take cuts. You can get a child in a private grammer school for much less than the price we are paying for public schools. (Too bad parents can't figure that out when they pay their property tax bills over 12 years). One aspect of the public system that is costing us a fortune is the fact each school in the county MUST have its own sports fields and apparatus. The BOC missed their mark when they allowed this to take place instead of building a sports complex in various areas and letting the schools share those facilities. What we do in Gwinnett is the "Cadillac" of systems, which we the taxpayer have had enough financing and of course, maintaining and staffing.


Why_not 1 year, 8 months ago

Fulton Science Academy - 9,000 Killian Hill Christian - 9,050 Blessed Trinity - 11,300 Covenent - 7,510 GACS - 15,425 Marist - 16,300 Providence - 13,980 In addition, the fees are very expensive for most. It seems there is a fee for everything except using the bathroom. REALLY Kevin????


kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

you get what you pay for whynot. You will pay for the public system all your life for lack of good education. (but great sports fields)


Why_not 1 year, 7 months ago

Both my daughters attained bachelors degrees and one is now working on her masters. Both have very good professional jobs. I have no complaints.


kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

You haven't priced the Catholic schools. Why not?


Why_not 1 year, 7 months ago

Since you have implied that you are catholic, I assumed you would know that Blessed Trinity and Marist are both catholic schools. And by the way, St. Pius is $13,270 a year.


Dacula2012 1 year, 7 months ago

St John Neumann $7020. They have financial aid available. George Walton Academy $8500-$9400. However, they have 100% college acceptance. Hebron Christian Academy $7615-$7850. The price per student at the private schools would be less if they increased class size. Average students in the private school classroom 14 vs public school 30. An ideal situation would be to take the $7600 allocated for your public school child and pay the difference.


SurelyNot 1 year, 7 months ago

How do programs of study compare? No. of AP classes offered? % of students sccoring 3 or above on AP exams? World languages taught? Higher math and science? Just curious if we are comparing apples to apples or not. What about technology?


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