The Paulding County School Board's 2020 budget includes a 5% pay increase for all 3,500 employees and a decrease in the property tax rate for education.

It also includes funding for a wide range of educational programs – including new math materials, support for exceptional students, school safety enhancements, and the opening of the Paulding College and Career Academy, a news release stated.

The seven-member board approved the $296.1 million budget unanimously at its June 11 regular meeting.

The approved budget represents an increase of $19.1 million over the 2019 budget due to an increase in state funding and a county tax digest that grew more than 9%.

It includes a reduction in the school district’s Maintenance and Operations property tax rate from 18.879 mills to 18.750 mills.

The final Maintenance and Operations rate will be set in a separate Board of Education vote on June 25.

Unlike some counties in Georgia, property owners in Paulding do not pay a separate Bond Debt millage because debt from prior capital expenditures is currently being paid down by the district’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.

School Board Chairman Jeff Fuller said, “The board and the superintendent worked together to develop a budget that provides a well-deserved pay increase for the district’s outstanding employees, high quality educational improvements in multiple curricular areas, and at the same time lowers the millage rate for Paulding County property owners.

“This budget is great news for students, staff, and the broader community of Paulding County stakeholders,” he said.

With projected enrollment expected to top 30,000 students for the 2019-2020 school year, the district is anticipating a 6.4 percent increase in funding received under the state’s Quality Basic Education Act funding formula – to $171.3 million.

Being situated in a relatively low wealth county with a smaller tax base, and with a relatively large number of school-age children per household, the Paulding County School District also receives an Equalization Grant from the state to help offset inequity.

The 2020 grant of $28.8 million is a slight decrease of about 1% from the 2019 grant.

The budget approved by the Board of Education June 11 includes significant educational and financial improvements for schools, students, teachers and district staff.

By allocating 69% of expenditures directly toward student instruction, a level that continues to exceed the state average, the school district remains committed to putting students first, the release stated.

The approved budget also leaves the district an emergency reserve that represents 13% of the General Fund.

Superintendent Brian Otott said, “It is great that this budget takes care of our teachers and employees and ensures we can recruit and retain a strong, professional staff focused on academic excellence.

"I think parents and students will be pleased to see that next year there will be additional support for our Exceptional Students Educational Programs, as well as additional STEM teachers and STEM support as we look to bolster that area of the curriculum in anticipation of the Computer Science Magnet opening at Hiram High School in 2020.

"In the meantime, we have the new Paulding College and Career Academy opening this August, and we are thrilled to be able to offer that new option for high school students.

“Lastly, this budget continues our attention to school safety and providing students the best curricular and technological resources available,” Otott said. “The Board of Education deserves a lot of credit for giving us the tools we need to provide the students of Paulding County an exceptional educational experience.”

More information about the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, including the budget presentation and the complete 2020 Budget Book, can be found at https://www.paulding.k12.ga.us/budget2020.