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Schools set to adopt 2020 budget; no property tax hike expected
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The Bryan County Board of Education hasn’t raised property taxes since 2008.

It won’t this year, either.

The school system’s budget, however, has gone up more than $30 million since the 2015 fiscal year, as the district continues to grow by hundreds of students and employees annually.

Last week at its May meeting, the Bryan County Board of Education tentatively adopted an $85.9 million budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins in July and runs through next June 30.

That budget, which will be the subject of both a June 20 public hearing and a June 27 vote, projects more than $24.6 million in local revenue, primarily property taxes, and another $60 million in state funding.

Federal funds account for about $1.18 million in revenue in the FY 2020 budget, according to documents provided by the school system and available online.

As for spending, more than $58.4 million will be spent in the classroom on such things as teacher salaries and benefits, while another $6.2 million will go toward instructional support services and instructional staff training.

Benefits such as insurance have become increasingly costly, school finance director Melanie James has said, noting it costs the district approximately $800 per month per employee for benefits.

Otherwise, general administration costs are projected at slightly less than $1.6 million, up from $1.24 million in fiscal year 2019. School administration at the county’s 10 schools will cost around $6.1 million, up from $5.3 million last year.

Maintenance and operations account for more than $7 million of the proposed FY 2020 budget, while student transportation is projected to cost around $4.08 million.

Both are up from the 2019 fiscal year, when the school board ran on a budget of $78.2 million.

The county expects to have a fund balance of around $19 million before the new budget starts.

School officials have credited a strong tax digest and full funding from the state as reasons for what has been termed a “strong” budget, though Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher told school board members he may ask for a millage rate increase for the 2021 fiscal year. By then, the county’s newest elementary school in South Bryan is expected to be open, which will require more teachers and administrators.

In 2014, the school board adopted a $55.4 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year. The March enrollment in 2014 was 8,299.

By March 2019, the system had 9,627 students, according to the Georgia Department of Education. At a recent growth forum sponsored by the Richmond Hill Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, Brooksher said the system could have more than 21,000 students by 2028.

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