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Proposed school board budget includes 3 percent staff raises and no millage increase
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Better pay and restored retirement benefits for the system’s 1,400 employees are some of the bigger ticket items in Bryan County Schools proposed $91.8 million budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which is up about $5.2 million from last fiscal year.

The Bryan County Board of Education approved the tentative budget during its May 27 meeting at the Community Education Center in Richmond Hill.

Though officials say the measure won’t require a millage rate increase from the school board’s current 15.075 mills, the proposed budget still has to go through two public hearings and a vote June 24 before it becomes official.

The hearings are set for 5 p.m. June 17 at the Community Education Center and 5 p.m. June 24 at the BoE Central Office in Black Creek.

Bryan County’s school budget has gone up at roughly the same rate as its enrollment. For example, in 2011 the school system had around 6,000 students and operated for about $48.7 million.

These days enrollment has gotten close to 10,000, and the district has built three new schools in South Bryan since 2012, with a new $100 million Richmond Hill High School on the way as well. Plans also call for a new high school in Pembroke.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher said people are at the heart of the system’s 2022 budget, which if approved takes effect July 1.

“It is evident this budget is about people,” he said in a press release. “As the largest employer in Bryan County with almost 1,400 employees, I am continually amazed at how all staff has performed during this pandemic. Our teachers have taught students face-to-face and have supported distance learning models that were second to none. Our school nutrition staffs have fed students at school; as well as, partnered with our transportation employees to distribute hundreds of thousands of meals into our communities. Our leaders and other support staff have worked tirelessly to strategically do what is best for kids. I am so pleased and proud our $91.8 million budget is focused on the outstanding employees of Bryan County Schools. Our school board is to be commended for their leadership and support of this budget.”

The proposed FY 2022 budget is roughly $5.2 million higher than the district’s FY 2021 budget of $85.5 million, and much of the increase comes in the form of salaries and benefits.

The tentative budget includes the reinstatement of previously reduced positions and the restoration of the employer match contribution for individuals participating in qualified 403(b) plans, officials said.

The budget also includes funds for technology such as purchasing Chromebooks to support the 1:1 ratio for every testing student and other project, such as increasing connectivity, replacing switches, firewall upgrades, and other various technological pursuits, the district announced.

In addition, the district’s fleet will increase by nine buses with one bus serving as a Title I funded mobile resource center, the release said. 

“The Bryan County Board of Education is pleased to approve such a fiscally sound budget,” BOE Chairwoman Amy Murphy said. “While we are excited to announce that our millage rate will remain the same, we are most excited to support a cost-of-living increase for all our employees. We are immensely grateful for our staff and our community, who so generously support the excellence and success of our Bryan County students.”

Recently, Bryan County Schools got a AA+ rating from Standard & Poor Global rating, the highest a school system of its size can get.

Notes on the proposed BCS budget:

School budgets run from July 1 to June 30 annually.

FY 2022 budget numbers Revenue:

• Local: School officials say local tax revenue will account for $30 million of its projected revenue, up $2.4 million from last year, and $1.7 million of the increase is due to growth in the tax digest.

• State: Bryan County Schools expects to get $58.4 million in state funding, up $3.4 million from 2021. According to Assistant Superintendent Melanie James, $3.1 million  will come because Gov. Brian Kemp restored more than half of state funds cut last year due to COVID-19, which was about $5.3 million. Roughly 58 percent of the cuts from last year are back in the state’s FY 2022 budget. School officials say Georgia’s finances are strong because Kemp opened up the state earlier than others, which led to more tax revenue. They call it “a big win for Georgia school districts.”

• The school’s total projected revenue for FY 2022 is $89,585,241, a $5.7 million increase over last year.


• Salaries for FY 22 are expected to be more than half the 2022 budget, or $58.7 million. That’s up 5.3 percent over last year and includes funding for 618 teachers and 71 instructional parapros, as well as the district’s bus drivers, administrative personnel, custodians and others. The 3-percent cost of living pay raise will cost about $1.4 million while the system will spend another $473,000 in higher salaries due to new pay scales for some employees.

James said the system has been conducting annual compensation reviews comparing Bryan County Schools salaries to those in neighboring school districts to keep salaries competitive for recruitment and retention purposes. Bryan County Schools planned on some increases last year but those were put on hold due to the pandemic.

Among BCS employees who will be on new pay scales are bus driver and bus monitors, who tend to start out well paid in terms of area compensation but in the past haven’t seen their salaries increase with experience., school officials have said.

• Also costly are retirement and insurance, and the school system projects spending $22.1 million on those in FY2022, a $1.9 million increase over FY2021. That includes an increase in the employer contribution to the teacher retirement system from 19.08 percent to 19.81 percent; and the restoration of the 403(b) match from 2 to 4 percent.

• The proposed budget includes transferring about $2 million into the system’s capitol projects fund.

• About $9 million will be spent on maintenance and operations, which includes everything from purchasing fuel to buying copiers, instructional supplies, software licenses and so on.

• The system’s estimated year-end reserve next June is projected at $19.8 million. James called that “a very strong financial position.”

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