Polk School District

Tentative budget figures for FY 2020 are being considered and are increasing this year to allow for additional educator pay increases for the coming school year.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins thanked the members of the Polk County Board of Education for working with school district administrators to ensure that for the coming year, the $79.3 million in revenue and expenditures — which includes a $10.4 million fund balance left by June 2020 — will be spent on increases in salaries across the board.

“There are some things that we have been able to do since we’ve not been able to touch since 2008, and things that have been dwindling away,” she said.

Atkins said now is the time to spend smart and build back what was lost to the years of the recession and recovery and match the efforts of the state to retain educators in the classroom with the help of salary increases.

The system is going above and beyond what Gov. Brian Kemp promised and the state legislature passed in the FY 2020 budget for the state when it comes to educator and support staff salaries for the coming fiscal year.

Along with the $3,000 raise for each teacher in the district and across the state, the budget for FY 2020 also includes a increase of four percent for classified employees, along with pay scale increase for bus drivers, the Polk School District Police Department, and an increase for those educators who are acting as either department chairs academically or coaches for the middle and high school athletics programs at both Rockmart and Cedartown High School.

The district also plans to hire 10 new bus monitors for select routes within the district that Atkins said “needs an extra set of eyes” and increase bus driver pay as well.

They’ll also be adding five percent more to the local portion of revenue to the budget this year, which Atkins said was the first time in a number of years the district has been able to make increases to the revenue line items in the budget without state assistance.

“We’re trying to make things a little better than they’ve been in the past years,” Atkins said.

Most of what Polk School District plans to take in through state and local funding will be spent on salaries for educators and staff, more than $49.1 million for the year and accounting for 71.36% of the budget.

The rest of the expenditures broken down include more than $6.6 million on maintenance, nearly $4.4 million on school administration, $2.7 million and change on transportation costs, and more than $1 million each in four categories for media, pupil services, improvement of instruction and a general business category.

The district expects $13 million in revenue from local sources, plus $54.4 million in state sources for more than $67 million in revenue total. The full revenue includes a $10.5 million fund balance already on the books from FY 2019. Last year’s state revenue in comparison to this year is up $4.8 million compared to the previous year.

Budget figures are tentative and the Board of Education heard positive comments during a required public hearing held amid their May 7 community input and work session from members of the audience who stated they were glad to see funding increase in several areas, as well as good budget stewardship over the past few years generally.

School board members will get to vote on the budget during their June session ahead of the close of the fiscal year for 2019, and heading into the 2020 figures.