The Gordon County Board of Education will host an initial hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 at its meeting on Monday, May 10, following a final discussion about potential changes and considerations held this Monday evening at the College and Career Academy.

Mendy Goble, Executive Director of Finance for the district, said the budget that will be brought before the board next month will feature changes to salary schedule and will attempt to aid schools and departments in making up funds they lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both changes are aimed at making the district more competitive than surrounding school systems.

Classified staff, which includes employees like paraprofessionals and bus drivers, would see a 5% increase to their pay scale factored into the proposed budget. They could also notice the implementation of a “step increase system” that Goble said would guarantee a 1.5%t pay increase for these staff members each year until they have maxed out their pay according to the pay schedule.

School nutrition and other school-based staff will also see a new salary schedule under the new, proposed budget. Modeled after what has been done in other local systems, Goble said this new salary schedule would help provide guidance on when these staff should receive pay increases and how often.

The pay scale for certified staff will remain the same.

At its called meeting on Monday, the board also discussed how best to make use of the district’s Land and Building Fund.

Goble suggested the fund could be a potential solution to offset the losses that some of the schools and athletic departments in the county have seen as a result of canceled sporting events and games. Re-allocated SPLOST monies could be used to do this as well, she said, though she urged the board to consider using Land and Building Trust funds instead because they could be accessed sooner and can be used for a wider range of purposes.

“Extracurriculars are down almost $20,000 if you add all the accounts together,” GCS Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Fraker said. “So not every club is struggling. Some of them are making money, but on the whole, funds for extracurriculars are way down right now.”

Should the board choose to reassign money from the Land and Building Fund to be used for this purpose, Fraker said she thought some worthy projects it could be put toward included new netting at the Gordon Central High School baseball hitting facility, new stands at Red Bud Middle School’s football field and new microphones for the school drama departments, though she also stated she would ask the schools individually for a list of needs to ensure as many as possible are met.

“If we tell them we have some money that they can put to use, I know they will have a use for it,” Fraker said. “Again, these funds can be accessed before September, unlike SPLOST funds, and that’s why we would prefer to use these.”

A final proposal related to use of the Land and Building Fund monies will be brought back before the board next month during the first reading of the proposed budget.

For more information about Gordon County Schools or to access board minutes and agendas, visit www.gcbe.org.

Kelcey Walker is a reporter for the Calhoun Times in Calhoun, Ga.

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