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.