The final 2015 Forsyth County Schools budget was approved Thursday.
While expenditures on the $309.2 million budget haven’t changed since the tentative budget was approved last month, the income is short by about $2 million, said Dan Jones, the system’s chief financial officer.
The change came hours before the board meeting, when Jones said he received updated tax digest numbers from the county.
Jones said the updated digest was “$2 million less than what we were given to work with before.”
“What changed were the exemptions,” he said, adding the budget was drafted using last year’s tax exemptions.
Board member Ann Crow noted with the older population moving to Forsyth County, school tax exemptions “are going to start hurting us more and more.”
Despite having $2 million less, the system will not make any cuts to its expenditures, which this year include more than 120 new positions, step increases and adding three days back to the school calendar.
Crow said even with the added shortfall, these are all needed expenses. Adding those three days of instruction back to the calendar, for a total of 180 days, is “what’s in the best interest of the students.”
She added the days, step increases and new jobs are all “things that we need to do so there wouldn’t be any question in my mind, or I don’t think anybody up here, that we would even consider going back on what we planned.”
The $2 million will be added to the deficit for a total of nearly $10 million. As in years past, the system taps into its $40 million fund balance, or reserves, to make up the shortfall.
The 2015 budget reflects a $20 million increase over the year prior, largely due to the new positions, which will cost about $8.3 million. Adding the step increase is costing about $3.2 million and adding the three days back into the school calendar comes at a cost of $3.4 million. Other budget increases include about $2 million for new computer leases and $286,000 for textbooks.
The final budget might have been passed, but changes could still be made to revenue, Jones said, because he received a “message from the county saying there were some errors in some of the exemptions.”
Whether that means an increase or even more of a decrease, Jones said the new numbers should still “be pretty close to where we are now.”
System Superintendent Buster Evans said “we do understand there will be slight modifications in the digest, as far as general expenditures, and those are presented in the budget and should remain accurate.”
As part of the budget process, which must be completed and sent to the state by Aug. 1, three hearings will be held in the coming weeks on the millage rate.