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The Buford City Board of Education approved its fiscal year 2020 Preliminary General Fund Budget at Monday’s monthly board meeting.

The Buford City Board of Education approved its fiscal year 2020 Preliminary General Fund Budget at Monday’s monthly board meeting.

The budget, which was approved unanimously, projects a more than $6 million increase in projected expenditures from the fiscal year 2019 budget. It includes the state-approved funding for a $3,000 pay raises for teachers and a 2% pay increase for all classified positions.

Buford City Board of Education chairman Phillip Beard said the school system is continuously trying to state ahead of most schools in the state in regard to faculty salaries, coinciding with the belief that a happier staff leads to higher-achieving students.

“You can see the evidence every year with the performances of our students,” Beard said during the meeting.

City officials said the millage rate for the City of Buford Schools millage rate will decrease from 12.75 mills to 12.70 mills, a tax decrease Beard said he hopes the city can approve for years to come.

The budget included funding for the Buford City Schools’ new School Resource Office’s operational needs. The budget outlined $136,105 in expenses under a “Safety & Security” provision from fiscal year 2019 midterm and $15,000 for 2020. While the salaries for Chief Mindy Bay Reuther and three additional officers are accounted for under salary expense, operational expense included necessities such as the office’s Chevrolet Tahoe squad cars. These expenses were non included on last year’s fiscal year budget.

There was a sizable increase in the funds budgeted for new positions. The 2020 proposal listed $2,779,971 as the budget for new positions, compared to 2019’s $670,000. School system officials attributed the increase to the opening of its fifth facility — the new Buford High School campus — and overall growth of the community.

The budget for the Buford High School project is not included on the budget as expenses are handled from the City of Buford’s funds.

The school system projects $1,500,000 in revenues from tuition and a total projected revenue of $56,634,155. Officials said the system’s financial office is conservative in estimating revenue in regard to strategically planning for the next fiscal year.

“Our schools appreciate the consistent support of our Board of Education to provided the resources necessary for our students to excel,” superintendent Robert Downs said in a statement.

Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories in the county he grew up in.

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