The Newnan Times-Herald

Local

School budget talks continue


  • By Rebecca Leftwich
  • |
  • Jun. 18, 2018 - 6:40 PM

As the Coweta County Board of Education works to finalize its 2019 fiscal year budget, board members are being asked to consider investing in multi-year contracts for educational software that could save the school system $300,000 over the next three years.

Software purchase contracts currently have been negotiated and initiated annually since Coweta schools rolled out the Chromebook initiative in 2012, using money set aside for digital resources in the educational special purpose local option sales tax that began the same year. Current software programs for the Chromebooks are geared toward Georgia standards, Superintendent Steve Barker said, and their materials align with information the school system has obtained from its standardized assessments.

“The Georgia Center for Assessment has worked to build formative/benchmark assessments for students in content areas,” Barker said, including review questions that help students prepare for milestone testing.

Barker said that while Coweta teachers can add content to the software, they don’t have to create it from scratch and can spend more time working with their students on crucial areas.

“It’s their best opportunity to know where they stand during the year so (the students) can perform best on the assessments,” Barker said.

The school system has utilized software for online learning, personalized learning, classroom resources, progress monitoring and formative student assessment over the past few years, Barker said. After reviewing the software used by Coweta schools, school and district leaders recommended longer contracts for better pricing, system alignment and other uses of school-based instructional funds.

Board members – who gave tentative approval to a $209 million fiscal year 2019 school system budget at their June 12 meeting – are expected to vote on the software proposal at a special called meeting June 26, when they also will vote on a final version of the budget.

The initially approved budget provides a 1 percent cost-of-living raise for all school system employees and doesn’t require a millage rate increase. The board intends to keep the 18.59 millage rate that has been in place since 2004.

The budget:

• Maintains a 180-day instructional calendar and all current instructional programs for students

• Provides step increases for certified and classified employees, where due.

• Fully funds an increase in the school system’s contributions to the state Teacher Retirement System.

• Provides a 15 percent increase in bus driver pay.

• Allows for 10 additional teaching positions system-wide

• Sets aside funding for additional school resource officers

If approved June 26, the 2019 fiscal year budget will take effect July 1. The called meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Coweta County Board of Education office, 237 Jackson Street in Newnan.

Information from two public budget workshops preceding the June 12 vote is available at www.cowetaschools.net on the Budget, Financial and SPLOST Information page. The page also provides links to current FY2019 revenue and expenditure detail, along with several years’ worth of school system budget information, millage rate history, tax digest information, school system annual audit reports and annual ESPLOST reports.