The Forsyth County Board of Education approved a preliminary fiscal year 2013 budget on Thursday, but officials hope to make some tweaks before final approval next month.
Despite rising enrollment and a new school slated to open in August, the system’s $268.3 million budget maintains the same staffing levels as the current year.
The spending plan also maintains a 178-day school year for students and, like previous budgets, doesn’t include across-the-board pay or step increases for employees.
It’s the fourth year in a row teachers and staff will not receive raises. It’s also another year where teachers will be furloughed for three days, according to board member Ann Crow.
“In my heart, I really, really wish we could have put one more day back in,” Crow said. “I just hate that we had to do the three days.”
The system’s budget calls for using nearly $5.2 million from the system’s fund balance to cover a projected shortfall, and Crow cautioned “we’re looking at next year being worse.”
Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans said there could still be some changes made to the budget, which is based heavily on a projected county tax digest.
The tax digest, or total property values on which tax collections are based, hasn’t been finalized for the year. Early estimates, however, show a decline of nearly 3 percent.
For the school system, that means a drop in revenue of nearly $3.8 million, according to system finance director Dan Jones. It would mark the fourth year in a row the digest has fallen.
But Evans remains optimistic, telling Crow that staff members would continue to look into possibly restoring some sort of benefits to teachers.
“I would certainly be in favor of doing some form of enhancement, whether it’s a day, or a step [increase] or some other consideration, if our budget will support a future recommendation,” he said.