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Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

Board of Education begins review of proposed $159M budget
District seeks raise for all employees to remain competitive; 
Plan to address needs and balance budget through strategic approach still in place 

On April 25, the Bulloch County Board of Education held its first meeting to discuss a proposed $159.5 million general operating fund budget for fiscal year 2025, which begins on July 1.

Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson began the discussions at the board’s scheduled work session with an updated budget adoption timeline that adds a possible called work session on May 30, if needed, and plans for final approval of the budget by June 27. The school district is required to have an approved budget in place by June 30 or adopt a spending resolution for July.

The revised timeline still includes two regular board sessions on May 9 and June 6, which offer a time on the agenda for public comment. The public may also share feedback to the board’s budget process by email at Budget presentations and videos of all meetings are also available on the school district’s website

Superintendent Wilson utilized Thursday’s work session to review details of tentative expenditures for projected salaries and benefits ($138M), which are 87% of total general fund expenditures, department (non-personnel) budgets ($20.6M), which make up 13% of the total general fund budget, and operating transfers ($777K) from the General Fund for the pre-kindergarten and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC) programs to cover salaries and benefits in excess of the state and federal funding the district receives for these programs.

In conjunction with the superintendent, the district’s chief financial officer and two assistant superintendents reviewed FY ‘25 tentative expenditure details. The information shared with the board included a scenario for including a seven percent increase to the base salary (not total salary) of all school district employees. This would be partially funded by the estimated $2.4M in funding expected from the state related to Governor Brian Kemp’s $2,500 pay increase for certain certified teaching staff, but the remaining $3.8M would have to come from local funds. 

The idea behind this scenario is to try and provide the same base-level increase to all employees that the Governor’s $2,500 pay increase represents for a beginning-level teacher, especially in light of the increasing competition with other districts and local industry for employees. However, Wilson stated that this will have to be revisited for further consideration before any budget is prepared and presented to the board for approval. In addition, information on each department’s proposed operating budget, along with an overview of significant changes from this year’s estimated expenditures, was discussed.  

While the main focus of Thursday’s meeting was general fund expenditures, the Board was also presented with an overview of capital projects, ranging from bus purchases to athletic facilities, estimated at $8.2M, that are not included in the general fund and instead funded by the district’s fourth education special purpose local option sales tax (E-SPLOST IV).

The May 9 regular board meeting will include any updates on information shared at Thursday’s meeting as well as a review of estimated general fund revenues for FY ‘25.  

The district continues to employ a long-term financial strategy to balance revenues and expenditures, utilizing the district’s excess general fund reserves (fund balance) that were built up in FY ‘21 and FY ‘22, while addressing needs that have emerged. This strategy involves a continuous focus on revenue growth in the community, managing expenditures based upon needs and values-based priorities, and restoring the district’s general fund balance to pre-COVID levels. District leadership and the board have been intentional and prudent in addressing the multitude of challenges that have emerged over the past few years, ranging from mental health and learning gap needs of students to an ever-increasing competitive workforce environment, and plan to continue doing so.

Once all components of the general fund budget have been finalized, the board will be presented with a tentative budget for approval. Tentative budget is currently scheduled for June 6, with a final adoption vote scheduled for June 27. 

School district departments began work on their individual budgets in January 2024, and submitted them to the district's finance department in February. In March, the school district's chief financial officer prepared school funding models based on each school's full-time equivalent student (FTE) counts and met with department directors in preparation for budget discussions with the board in April through June.

Bulloch County Schools' overall budget is composed of five funds: General Fund, Special Revenue Fund, School Nutrition Fund, Capital Projects Fund, and Debt Service Fund.