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$19M in employee raises proposed in Forsyth County Schools' 2020 budget

If officially approved in June, the Forsyth County Schools’ proposed $479 million budget would include raises and step increases for thousands of school employees, according to documents presented at Tuesday night’s work session.

At the May work session of the Forsyth County Board of Education, school officials got their first look at the tentative 2020 Forsyth County Schools budget, which includes nearly $19 million in pay increases for local teachers, school staff and other certified employees.

These pay increases, according to school system Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner, are part of the recently-approved Georgia state budget agreement which pledged over half a billion dollars for teacher and school employee raises statewide.

The proposed raises would include $3,000 for all certified school system employees as part of the state’s funding, a 2 percent raise for all classified employees as well as $5 million in step increases for eligible employees, Griner said.

Budget documents also note 188 new positions, including dozens of teachers, paraprofessionals and other school staff, which Griner said will help to handle the county and school system’s intense growth.

“By the beginning of FY 2020, our student population will be in excess of 50,000 students,” his presentation to the board stated. “The Forsyth County School District has experienced incredible growth over the last two decades. To our knowledge, no other district has encountered such a long and steady growth pattern.”

Griner said that even with the increasing number of local students, Department of Education data suggests that Forsyth County Schools has the lowest per pupil cost of the 12 largest school districts in Georgia.

Other notable highlights of the 2020 school budget include a proposed millage rate of 17.3 mills, which school officials say has not increased in five years, and a five-star financial efficiency rating with the state of Georgia that the system has achieved for the fourth year in a row.  

The school board will hold its second public hearing for the proposed budget at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, before it goes before the board for tentative approval at the 6 p.m. meeting.

If approved, the budget will go back before the board for final approval at a meeting in June.