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What does Georgia’s new budget mean for teachers?
Paige Fairbanks, a math teacher at Mountain Education Charter High School who also teaches at North Forsyth High School, talks with Natalie Will during class Wednesday, July 18, 2018. - photo by Brian Paglia

Georgia lawmakers approved a $27.5 billion budget agreement, which includes $550 million in raises for teachers and school employee’s statewide.

On Thursday, March 28, the state House and Senate approved the state’s 2020 budget, passing it off for the approval of Gov. Brian Kemp, who previously said the raises are a down payment on his campaign pledge to raise teacher salaries by $5,000, according to reports from the Associated Press.

Under this budget, which begins July 1, certified teachers and employees would see raises of $3,000, while other school employees, including school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and janitors, will receive a 2 percent increase.

In a statement to the Forsyth County News, Forsyth County Schools’ Board of Education Chairwoman Kristen Morrissey said that as a system, they are grateful that lawmakers passed the budget, saying that it shows the state’s commitment to education.

“If the budget goes through as is, it shows how much the state values our educators and their impact on our children in our public schools,” Morrissey said. “The new increased base salaries will help make Georgia become more competitive with neighboring states when it comes to hiring and retaining quality teachers.”

Morrissey said that as the system works its way through its next year of finances, they will also need to address the gaps in other locally funded positions that were added to the system this school year, such as the Student Advocacy Specialists and school counselors.

But until the Forsyth County Schools district completes its 2019-20 budget, school officials say that they aren’t exactly certain what this new state funding will mean for their staff or how many will see a bump in pay.

Forsyth County Schools Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo said on Tuesday that the system should have a clearer picture by May, when the Board of Education is presented a proposed budget.

School district department heads filed budgets last week, Caracciolo said. After they are analyzed by the system’s finance department and presented to the board, the budget should be approved at the June meeting.