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School system prepares for school openings, staff salary increases in early 2022 budget estimates
07152020 Board of Education 1

Forsyth County Schools is preparing for its fiscal year 2022 budget, using funding estimates to map out plans for school openings and pay increases for many staff members.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Hammel presented a tentative budget to the board at its latest work session on Tuesday, April 14, based on conservative estimates of local property tax digest and Quality Basic Education funds.

In the tentative budget, district leaders predict they will receive $503,366,382 in revenue to the general fund, a small increase from last year as the school system regains state funding cuts.

During the last fiscal year, right as the pandemic began to have an impact on the state economy last April, FCS saw more than $25 million in cuts from state QBE funds. The QBE formula calculates what a school system needs to spend on employees and other expenses based on the number of full-time enrolled students.

The state austerity cuts will drop down to less than half of last year’s cuts going into the 2022 fiscal year, with more than $10 million cut from the district’s regular QBE funding. With the state economy in better shape than expected, the state also plans to give back 60% of funding cut last year to FCS.

With the increase in revenue, Hammel explained that the upcoming budget will include a step increase for staff members, meaning that the majority of staff will earn a pay increase based on their work experience. The increase was cut from the budget last year due to the unpredictable financial situation caused by the pandemic.

While they plan to add the step increase back into the budget, it still will not include a Cost of Living Adjustment, which would allow for a pay increase for all staff members.

Overall, the system plans to incur $511,024,759 in costs, which includes 123 new positions as they prepare to open a new high school, middle school, performing arts building and Academies for Creative Education building.

The new positions include four assistant principals for both East Forsyth High School and Hendricks Middle School, a principal for New Hope Elementary School and 26 new custodians for the four new buildings.

The majority of the system’s budget, 78%, will also go toward instruction, including salaries, benefits and operating expenses.

While the numbers are not likely to change drastically, Hammel reminded the board during the presentation that the numbers outlined in the budget are tentative as they await final information on funding from state and local entities. Costs are likely to remain the same, but expected revenue could increase or decrease.

Hammel said they will likely hear back about final revenue funds by the end of May, and the board plans to approve the final budget for the 2022 fiscal year in June.

For more information on funding and financial transparency, visit the school district’s website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us.