On Feb. 6, Blake Stansell, director of finance for Catoosa County Public Schools, presented the Catoosa County Board of Education with a report on the school system’s 2017-18 budget through December 2017.

The total cost of running the school system for its current 12-month fiscal year, which runs July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, will be $101.5 million. That money comes from a variety of sources and is allotted to a variety of purposes.

Just over $29 million comes from local taxes. Property and vehicle taxes account for $28 million of the local taxes that fund schools. One million dollars comes from other taxes, such as those on real estate transfers. Another $70 million in funding comes from the state through various programs and grants. The general fund budget does not include ESPLOST funds for capital outlay projects.

The school system is the county’s largest employer, with around 1,700 employees. Ninety percent of the system’s budget is devoted to salaries and benefits. The school employs 975 teachers and paraprofessionals who work directly with the 11,000 students who attend 18 public schools in Catoosa County.

The bulk of the system’s budget – $70.5 million – is devoted to "instruction." That includes teacher and paraprofessional salaries and benefits, and instructional materials, such as textbooks and software programs. Another $9 million covers administration costs – salaries and benefits for principals, assistant principals, system administrators, and administration clerical personnel.

Pupil services accounts for $35.6 million of the school system’s budget. This includes salaries and benefits for school counselors, as well as funds for testing, attendance, social work, health services, athletics, and programs to promote positive behavior or address discipline issues.

Media services is allotted $1.56 million, which covers salaries and benefits for librarians, and the purchase of books and materials, audio-visual services and educational television. $1.5 million is devoted to staff training and efforts to improve instruction in the schools.

The system budgeted $8 million for maintenance and operations (including salaries and benefits) of the 1.8 million square feet of building space it has, as well as upkeep of the grounds surrounding the buildings.

Catoosa County Public Schools owns 146 buses that transport 6,000 students a day and travel 1.4 million miles a year. To cover the cost of bus drivers and monitors, mechanics, insurance, fuel, and upkeep and repairs, the system has budgeted $5 million.

Other expenses covered in the budget include $870,679 for central support services (human resources, disability and workers’ compensation, data processing, evaluation services), $687,239 for business services (finance and accounting, grants administration, inventory control, internal auditing), and $162,547 for miscellaneous support services (enrollment personnel, and Regional Education Service Agency membership, which is a consortium of 18 Northwest Georgia school systems that work together to increase the effectiveness of schools).

"There are 180 school systems in Georgia," says Catoosa Schools Superintendent Denia Reese. "Catoosa County Public Schools is one of 35 school systems in the state with enrollment exceeding 10,000 students, so we are considered a large school system. The Board of Education understands that this community expects a high quality education for students, and they work to be a good steward of taxpayer resources. I am proud that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts has recognized Catoosa County Public Schools with the Award of Distinction for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the last two consecutive years."