Clayton school officials present robust FY15 budget proposal

JONESBORO — Officials anticipate state and local revenues will grow by more than $20 million in fiscal year 2015 compared to this year for Clayton County Public Schools.

With the anticipated increases in revenues, Superintendent Luvenia Jackson is recommending a $399 million budget for the school board. Her budget proposal includes three options.

Jackson said the first option does not include pay raises, but would restore five instructional days to the school calendar at a cost of $7.5 million. Those days would increase from 175 to 180.

The second option is to give all employees a 2 percent pay raise and restore three instructional days at a cost of $10 million — $5.7 for pay raises and $4.5 million to add instructional days, according to the budget proposal. The choice would increase instructional days from 175 to 178.

The last option is for a 3 percent pay raise for all employees with a one-time, 1 percent bonus for those employed as of July 1, 2014. It would cost nearly $11 million — $8.4 million for pay raises and $2.6 million for the one-time bonus.

Jackson said there would be no instructional days added under the third option.

Chief Financial Officer Ken Thompson presented the budget proposal during Monday’s board meeting. He said it accounts for $372 million in projected revenues and will require funds come out of the school board’s fund balance, or savings, which officials managed to more than quadruple over the past five years.

District data reveals that fund balance would be drained to pre-FY13 levels, from $72 million to between $44 million and $48 million. That is in order to fund additional teachers and school safety personnel, increase employee benefits and improve software and technology.

Members of the board applauded when Thompson recommended part of the budget include a $55,925 investment to hire someone to manage an expansion of student transportation to include elementary school students living at least a mile away from school as opposed to 1.5 miles away.

It also includes $226,550 for the district’s communications department, $656,357 for increased utility costs and custodial equipment and $137,870 for teacher recruitment enhancements.

For the coming weeks, the board has planned to host public hearings on its proposed budget and salary options at its administrative complex at 1058 Fifth Ave. in Jonesboro.

The next hearing is set at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 13. There will be June 2 hearings concerning teacher salaries at 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and the budget at-large at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The board is expected to adopt a tentative budget during a meeting May 19. It will adopt a final budget June 23, along with a tentative millage rate. Members will vote on the FY15 millage rate July 10.

Also at Monday’s meeting, members voted in favor of amendments to policy series J concerning students. The changes include a nondiscrimination statement and amendments to enrollment policies in home study, homeless youth, individualized education program plans, transfer students and student records.

The board approved a consent agenda that included reports on purchasing, finance, SPLOST IV revenues and personnel changes as well as updates on SPLOST construction and the district’s Summer Food Service Program.

View the FY15 budget proposal at visit www.clayton.k12.ga.us.