FY22 Budget Unanimously Approved by Board of Education
Submission Date: May 18, 2021
Release Date: For Immediate Release
Contact: J.D. Hardin, 770-957-6601 ext. 01161, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Release # 0058-04-2021)
FY22 Budget Unanimously Approved by Board of Education
Updated local tax digest projections lead to better financial outlook for coming year
HENRY COUNTY, GA – The Henry County Board of Education took formal action and final steps to adopt the FY22 budget for the coming school year during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 10. As shared during the tentative budget adoption process in April, the budget maintains a balance between revenues and expenditures with a final total of $415.4 million.
Chief Financial Officer Shanika Clay was able to provide one more overview of the budget during both the study session and a separate budget hearing, and the information shared with the board provided a small update regarding more positive projections from the local tax digest.
Since the tentative FY22 budget was presented, local tax revenue forecasts showed a positive increase from 3.76 percent to 5.5 percent, representing an increase in overall revenues for the district by approximately $2 million. This latest announced update will help the district reduce the deficit once projected to be covered through federal funding. That slight shortfall to be covered by federal funds now projects at $6 million.
The 2020-2021 school year will go down as one of the most challenging years in the district and in public education in general due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges the board navigated through thanks to solid fiscal stewardship of the FY21 budget set the district up to be able to provide a budget comparable to that achieved just two years prior. Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis’ recommendations for the tentative FY22 Budget carried forth into the final budget adoption but with a small positive adjustment to the pay increase for employees with hourly rates of pay below $15 per hour.
As updated and shared with the board, the FY22 budget provides for a one percent increase to all employee wages. An additional investment above the one percent increase was provided for job families with an hourly rate of pay below $15 per hour, accomplishing a full dollar increase. That means any hourly starting wage below $15 will see an increase of a dollar over current figures. This, along with previously proposed adjustments to employee compensation and investments in resources for classroom instruction, ensures the board’s commitment to two of its core beliefs. The budget remains student-centered and places a strong value on the district’s integral workforce.
The approval of this year’s budget total is noteworthy considering the FY21 budget started with a $45 million shortfall when compared with the previous budget year.
“We are extremely grateful to our board for their continued commitment to our students and our employees as evident in the adoption of the FY22 budget,” stated Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “Working through the many challenges that education professionals and school districts have experienced this school year and now starting the next year in a better-than-expected financial situation is a testament to our board, our employees, and so many leaders in our community.”
Included in the FY22 budget is a strong focus on investments in high-quality instruction and support services. Currently, the balanced budget maintains low teacher-to-student ratios and allots new positions for the expansion of Impact Academy which will serve as the district’s virtual learning option for the 2021-22 school year. There is also the procurement of writing and reading resources to invest in student literacy, support for an administrator cluster lead to support an integrated K-12 cluster experience, and a focus on the continuity of key wrap-around, nutrition, and afterschool services.
“It is a strong commitment of our board to demonstrate unanimous approval of this budget,” said Board Chair Holly Cobb. “There are some historic investments being made to support our district as needed, and there are great investments in our students and our staff. When our budget remains focused on these two groups and aligned to our newly adopted strategic plan, only good things will result for our community.”
One of the greatest issues facing school communities throughout the pandemic has been the need for an increased focus on mental, social, emotional, and academic health needs. Additionally, student reporting in order to help maximize financial support from the three key funding sources – local, state, and federal – has become increasingly important for accountability and long-term revenue purposes. As a result, the district’s FY22 budget provides for one mental health and wellness facilitator at each school as well as a student data clerk.
“I am appreciative of our board for remaining committed to the health and safety of our students and staff,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “The investment in mental health and wellness specialists at each of our schools looms large in support of our students’ mental, social, and emotional health needs. Coupled with support given to students aimed at learning loss recovery efforts, these investments give our district the chance to emerge from this pandemic-riddled year stronger than before. We remain committed to exceptional learning experiences for our students and families that have been maintained even through the uncertainties we have navigated over the past year.”
Other key efforts to prepare to mitigate the learning disruption from the past 14 months, target intensified support and intervention needs, and bridge student gaps in learning and experiences are supported through the federal government allocation through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. District officials have begun the design of the multi-year federal funding allocation and will continue to keep the district website updated with details of that plan.
For more information on Henry County Schools, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us.