Learn About the Proposed FY24 Operational Budget
On May 9, Forsyth County Schools presented the proposed budget that provides the necessary resources and support our children need to be safe, connected, and thriving (watch the meeting here). Forsyth County Schools continues to experience incredible student enrollment growth. To our knowledge, no other district has encountered such a long and steady growth pattern. By the beginning of FY24, we will be at approximately 54,535 students. View the proposed budget presentation here.
The proposed budget is 89% people, meaning employee pay and benefits. If approved, the FY24 budget ensures that our employees remain regionally competitive with other professionals in similar jobs in the metro region. FCS employs over 6,000 individuals and is the largest employer in Forsyth County. When our community came together during the 21-22 school year to work on a new Strategic Plan, one of the top five areas they demanded that FCS address was the acquiring and retaining of excellent staff. Our Board unanimously adopted this plan last spring. Last year, we addressed teacher salaries and classified staff salaries in our budget. Once again, to remain regionally competitive, we must address teacher salaries, and this year we must address the salaries of other certified staff.
During the 22-23 school year, FCS modified/increased the pay scales for bus drivers and monitors, custodians, school nutrition staff, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and substitute teachers. A salary study of teacher, assistant principal, and principal pay of the seven largest districts in Georgia was also presented to the Board of Education on May 9 (view the HR presentation here). FCS is the 5th largest district in our state. For 22-23, our teachers are the 6th lowest paid of the 7th largest districts we studied, while our assistant principals and principals are the 7th lowest paid of the 7th largest districts studied. 26% of the total teachers leaving FCS for the 23-24 school year are going to neighboring districts for more pay and/or moving out of Forsyth County because of housing prices. Teacher pay and housing costs have also been challenges over the past few years when recruiting new and/or experienced teachers to FCS.
To remain or be competitive with surrounding/similar counties, we are proposing that for the 23-24 school year the general fund budget include a step increase and that classified staff receive a 5% COLA. The teacher pay increase would include $2,000 from the Governor and additional local funds to ensure all teachers receive at a minimum of $3,000. For FY24, the teacher pay scales ensure that with a bachelor’s degree, teachers would reach $60,000 by year eight. The proposed budget includes 85 new school-based and 12 new district-level positions for growth.
State and Local Revenue/Taxes
There are no State austerity cuts for FY24. The county’s tax digest continues to grow due to inflation and low inventory. For FY24, the estimated growth is 19.63%.
Even with these proposed, necessary salary increases, this budget includes a rollback of the M&O millage by one full mill, from 17.3 to 16.3. The last time our operational millage was 16.3 was in 2014. Last year, we rolled back our Debt Service Millage from 2.413 to 1.413, the same rate our debt service millage was in 2010. This additional 1 mill decrease is in continuation to the 1 mill decrease in the Debt Service millage and will result in $40+ million dollars less in Ad Valorem taxes for Forsyth County property owners under the age of 65 (residents 65 or older without students in their homes are exempt from school taxes in FC; this is an annual loss of $50 million in revenue). If approved, the combined millage rate of 17.718 would be the lowest level Forsyth County tax payers have experienced since 2010.
The proposed FY24 budget has a 10.18% expenditure increase, which includes 6.41% in state-mandated increases for teacher pay of $2,000 and health care costs of $29+ million. The remaining increase of 3.77% is locally funded for employee step and salary increases.
The proposed budget includes $15 million in reserves for future health care increases that the State mandated, but did not fund, for classified employees. Also included is $11+ million for future land purchases. The general fund budget for FY24 has a projected fund balance of 15% of the projected expenditures.
The per pupil cost for FY22, which is the latest data available from the State, shows that FCS is the lowest among the twelve largest districts at $10,132.27. FCS’ increase between FY22 and FY21 expenditures was also the smallest increase of all twelve largest districts in the amount of $329.22 per FTE.
FCS is the only school district to maintain a State five-star financial efficiency rating for the seventh consecutive year.
The final budget and millage will be approved in June. The district will have hearings on the following dates:
- May 31: 8:30 am budget and 9 am millage
- June 15: 5 pm budget, 5:30 pm millage, and 7 pm millage