Polk County Board of Education Work Session - May 2018

Board members discussed the budget numbers for the 2019 fiscal year during their May work session on May 1, 2018. (Kevin Myrick/SJ)

  • First public hearing held for FY 2019’s estimates of revenue and expenditures for PSD

The first of two required budget hearings were held for the annual Polk School District budget as officials move through the process of getting ready for the new fiscal year.

Tammy McDonald, Director of Finance for the Polk School District, laid out what the district is seeking for this year, with a planned balanced budget of $68,331,803 in revenue and expenditures for the 2019 fiscal year.

She said that “we’ve built a conservative solid balanced budget” for FY 2019 and that “we're in a good position and we feel really good about it.”

The figures add to $4 million more in this year’s budget for the school district than in the FY 2018 budget, which called for $64 million in revenue and expenditures for the year.

Breaking down the tallies, McDonald said that local tax revenues helping fund the system still add up to $13 million, or about 21 percent of the total revenue the district uses to operate annually. The state in FY 2019 is expected to provide $62.7 million in revenue for local school as well, more than covering the costs of paying for teacher salaries.

In expenditures, the initial budget calls for $46 million in spending on educator salaries, or 71.5 percent of the total budget. The rest of the funding will go toward $6.1 million in maintenance costs, $4.2 million in school administration costs, $1.2 million in pupil services, $2.4 million for transportation and more than $1 million on media costs. The additional tallies were all under $1 million for instruction improvement, staff training ($10,000,) support services, general administration and fund transfers totaling $350,000.

The beginning balance for FY 2019 was set at $4 million in the budget, and with an interfund loan payment of $1.6 million will help ensure the budget is not only balanced, but that $3.8 million is left over in the bank when the year finishes in June 2019.

Polk School District will also owe $3.6 million in debt service for the year, and will get nearly $4.6 million for the school nutrition program.

Once board members got a chance to hear the numbers for the first time presented by McDonald, questions began from District 6 member Chris Culver.

He wanted to know whether the board and central office administrators might look at two items he feels are important. First among those was doing something to help ensure the district keeps coaches in their thoughts.

“I’m all for teachers for making as much money as we can pay, along with coaches and those who are leading our youth,” Culver said.

He added that coaching supplements had not increased in a number of years, and that it would keep Polk School District in line with the pay scale for coaches in the area around the county.

Culver also wanted the board to consider whether they might be able to find money to help support Rockmart High School’s drama department in the costs they have to take on to put on community productions. Right now, the school is forced to lease the city’s auditorium in order to put on plays and musicals, forcing ticket prices to go up to cover the cost of the rental.

“Couldn't we do something to help them until maybe in the future we can have that performing arts building in Rockmart that Cedartown is about to have and has waited on for many, many years?” he asked.

It was something the board will have to consider, along with a request from District 1 board member Jane Hamlett.

She asked for consideration of the board to bring back annual bonuses that teachers received before the winter holiday breaks, payments that were approved by members in past years but hasn’t come through consistently. With last year’s need for a Tax Anticipation Note and repayment to the general fund to cover that cost from the E-SPLOST while construction continues, the board didn’t go through with bonuses in 2017.

“They deserve that extra money, and I know a lot of teachers who missed it this year,” she said.

Before wrapping up the discussion on the budget, Culver did seek to find out whether the district would consider increasing funds for after-school daycare programs to be available at all elementary schools. Superintendent Laurie Atkins responded that those programs are in place on a school-by-school basis, and fees charged to parents are used to cover the costs at individual campuses who decide or have interest from teachers in participating.

No vote was taken on approval of the budget, which won’t come until after a second public hearing is called and chances for local residents to provide comment should they choose to.