Budget approved

Gwinnett County Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Joe Heffron, center, answers a question about the school district’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget during a presentation to the Gwinnett Board of Education in March. The board approved its 2020 budget Thursday.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved its budget for the 2020 fiscal year at Thursday night’s board meeting.

The board voted unanimously to pass the budget of approximately $2.319 billion and tentatively left the millage rate unchanged.

The budget increases the amount allotted to the salaries and benefits of GCPS teachers. The budget included $3,000 cost-of-living increase for all employees paid on the teacher salary schedule will cost $44.6 million, and a 2% cost-of-living increase for all employees not paid on the teacher salary schedule at a cost of $7 million.

A salary step increase for all eligible employees, which will cover 95% of current teachers, will cost approximately $13.7 million. Salary costs also include $8.1 million to fund the 104 additional teacher and instructional support positions.

There is also funding for six additional school resource officers. Additional resources are budgeted to special education and psychological services, foreign language and fine arts. There are also budget increases in operational and maintenance support.

Average student-teacher ratios will remain the same and district positions at the central office will be filled as needed.

The general fund represents 77.4% of the total budget and funds the primary day-today operations of the school district. It accounts for $1.795 billion of the total budget and is a 3.7% increase from last year’s budget, attributed to salary improvements, mandated employer benefit increases and costs associated with increased enrollment.

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks provided his FY 2020 budget recommendations to the members of the board the week of March 18. The Board met in work sessions to discuss the budget March 23 and April 9. School Board members tentatively adopted the FY 2020 budget and then held public hearings May 9 and Thursday.

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

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