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Raises included in 2013 school budget
Board of education made request
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Board of Education on Thursday approved a $270.5 million budget for fiscal year 2013.

The spending plan is some $2 million higher than the tentative budget approved last month. However, among the changes was the addition of a 1 percent pay raise for all staff in the school system.

The pay increase, the first in four years, was a move the school board asked the finance department to consider in May.

“I want to thank you for coming up with that,” said board member Ann Crow. “I think it’s really important to let every employee know that we’re trying.”

The salary increase will cost nearly $2.1 million, said Dan Jones, finance director.

Under the tentative budget, the board was facing using nearly $5.2 million from the system’s fund balance, or reserves, to cover the shortfall.

With the salary increases and other adjustments, including an unexpected insurance hike, the final budget will pull nearly $8.5 from reserves. Jones said there will be about $36 million remaining.

“That still leaves us in a pretty healthy spot,” said board member Kristin Morrissey.

Of the total budget, more than half is coming from state and federal funding, which Crow said was a first during her nine years on the board.

But the change, she noted, is not from an increase in state funding. That area, she said, has risen little since 2001.

Instead, she attributed the difference to a drop in property values and money collected by the county, she said.

“Our revenue is almost down to the rate we were in 2007,” Jones said, noting the system is using less money to fund many more students. Its enrollment this past school year was more than 36,700.

Board Chairman Tom Cleveland said being able to keep up with the declining revenue has occurred because the system has “stuck to our guns.”

He said planning has been key, but the budget likely will become more difficult to balance.

Cleveland said the system is getting to the point where there’s not much “more we do that’s not going to hurt.”

“We’re going to see decreases in something,” he said.