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School board approves $66 million budget
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The Bryan County Board of Education has approved a tentative $66 million budget for fiscal-year 2017, about $4.8 million more than this year.

Schools Superintendent Paul Brooksher said during the May 26 board meeting that the bulk of the increase will go toward employee pay raises, with a 3 percent increase in the salary schedule and a 2 percent lump-sum payment. Brooksher said the budget also includes hiring 22 new teachers, which is what the district has been close to average each of the last five years.

The board honored 16 retiring employees with a combined service of nearly 300 years to the district. Their overall school employment is much longer since several began their careers in other districts.

Still within the 2016 budget, the board approved the purchase of five new buses at $78,000 each. The district currently has 12 buses that are inoperable, and 30 percent of its fleet is 15 years or older. At a board retreat in April, Brooksher told the board the district would need to purchase four new buses per year over the next 10 years in anticipation of 3,500 additional students.

In other spending, the board approved $85,000 to repair and add curb and gutter to a section of Frances Meeks Way; $81,000 to expand the parking lot at the Board of Education building; $37,350 to expand the bus lane at Lanier Primary School; and $11,300 for improvements to the softball field at Richmond Hill High School.

The board also approved signing a contract with an architect to design a new band room at Richmond Hill High School. The 4,000-square-foot project will cost $450,000 to $500,000.

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