At a called meeting Tuesday, the Coweta County Board of Education formally adopted its budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which includes a $243 million operational budget for the Coweta County School System.
The board voted 5-1 to adopt the budget, with Linda Menk opposed. Board member Buzz Glover was not present at the meeting.
Menk also voted no on the amended 2022 budget, which included revisions to the board-approved budget reflecting changes that occurred throughout the year.
The FY 2023 budget does not project an increase in the local property tax rate of 17.14 mills. Millage rates for local property taxes are set in July, following the establishment of the local property tax digest by the county tax assessors office.
The board of education can adjust school system tax rates for school operations based on the annual property tax digest. The Board of Education has decreased the school system ad valorem millage rate for the past two years – to a current 17.14 mill property tax rate in 2021, down from 17.30 mills, and to 17.30 mills in 2020, down from 18.59 mills the year before.
In addition to these decreases, the school board also expanded senior citizen tax exemptions through local referendum in 2020.
At its regular monthly meeting on June 14, the board voted 6-1 to tentatively approve the budget in the first of two formal votes, with Menk opposed. The vote followed two state-mandated budget workshops held by the school board in May.
The school system operates on a fiscal year that extends from July 1 until June 30 of the following year. The budget covers school system operations and other expenditures during the upcoming fiscal year. It is also based on revenue estimates including anticipated state educational funding during the upcoming year and current estimates of local property tax revenue.
According to school officials, the FY 2023 budget achieves several goals of the school board, including:
• Maintaining the current student calendar of 180 instructional days, and the current instructional program for students for the upcoming year.
• Adding a $2,000 state base salary increase for certified employees.
• Passing on step increases for classified employees, where due. Classified employee pay scales were increased as a mid-year adjustment in January 2022.
• Funding an anticipated increase in contributions to the state Teacher Retirement System, which will rise from 19.81 percent to 19.98 percent in FY 2023.
• Adding teachers and support personnel in various positions system-wide in FY 2023.
The FY 2023 General Fund budget of $243 million is funded principally by state revenues and local property tax revenues.
The tentative budget approved Tuesday anticipates an overall increase in state funding during the coming fiscal year, and assumes maintenance of the current 17.14 mill local property tax rate with 3.75 percent in anticipated growth in the local tax digest.
The General Fund budget includes the largest portion of funding for instruction and pupil services, maintenance and operation of schools, transportation and other operational costs.
In addition to the General Fund, three other components were tentatively approved by the board as a part of its total FY 2023 budget. These include $56,386,393 in expenditures from Special Revenue Funds, which account for special federal programs such as Title I, federal lunch programs, and IDEA.
Also included is $89,840,407 in anticipated expenditures through the Capital Projects Funds, which accounts for construction and other capital expenditures during the year. Funding under this line item can fluctuate from year-to-year, depending on the scale of construction projects undertaken by the school system during a given fiscal year.
School construction is funded principally by revenues from the Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, through which the system follows a “pay as you go” strategy for school construction projects. The system also receives some earned state funding for construction.
Because the school system has no current debt, no expenditures are required in the system’s Debt Service fund in FY 2023.
Those funds, combined with operations funds, total $389,476,340. The new fiscal year’s budget will take effect on July 1.
Information detailing revenues and expenditures in the school system’s FY 2023 budget – information presented at the public budget workshops – can be found on the school system’s website at www.cowetaschools.net, under the “Budget, Financial and SPLOST Information” tab.
The page provides links to current FY 2023 revenue and expenditure detail and includes several years of school system budget information, millage history, tax digest information, school system annual audit reports and annual ESPLOST reports.