FY24 Budget Continues Record Investments in Henry County Students
HENRY COUNTY, GA – The Henry County Board of Education on May 8 approved (4-0) the final version of the budget for the 2023-24 school year, which continues to build on record investments in the district’s students and employees.
The $510.1 million general fund budget – which maintains a consistent millage rate dating back to 2007 – reflects an investment of $11,677 per student, an increase of more than $1,000 per student over last year’s budget, and the strongest commitment to teaching and learning in district history.
“The strength of our local economy coupled with our Board of Education’s sound financial management and investments were the driving forces behind a budget that allows us to address critical objectives such as competitive compensation, staffing increases, and investments in key initiatives of our Community-Inspired Strategic Plan,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “This budget allows us to continue to invest more in students while we also grow as a competitive employer.”
The board took action to address competitive compensation for personnel across the district, increasing the teacher salary schedule by 7.2% over the previous year, raising the starting teacher salary to $48,410, and providing wage increases between 3-15% for other salaried employees. The new starting teacher salary marks an improvement of more than $10,000 since 2018.
“Providing the best possible learning environment for Henry County students was our top priority in developing this budget,” said Board Chair Annette Edwards (Dist. 2). “I believe that is reflected in our historic investment per student, as well as our eagerness to go beyond state investments in compensation to ensure we attract and retain the highest quality educators and support staff.”
The budget also continues targeted investments in the hourly rates for paraprofessionals, campus safety monitors, clinic aides, school nutrition assistants, and a $2 per hour increase for bus drivers, whose hourly rate will now start at $19.79. Additionally, the budget encompasses the state-mandated increase in benefits, which totals $20.7 million.
Staffing increases were also addressed in the FY24 budget, which creates 45 new teacher positions, including six dedicated to the Community-Inspired Strategic Plan initiative to increase access to middle school orchestra.
“As Henry County continues to grow and thrive, we believe this budget enables our schools to continue to grow and thrive,” said Vice Chair Sophe Pope (Dist. 4). “Our community deserves the best when it comes to the safety and quality of our schools, and this historic budget directly addresses those priorities.”
Included in the board’s action were approvals of the budgets for the Special Revenue Fund and Capital Projects Fund. The two funds include targeted investments, many of which are related to sustaining the momentum of the district’s current Community-Inspired Strategic Plan, which will be entering its third of five years. These include safety and security enhancements, facility growth projects, asset growth and replacement, instructional resources, and more.
The final budget is consistent with the figures tentatively adopted by the board last month. Chief Financial Officer Shanika Clay reported there were nominal adjustments to support a strategic staffing pilot program and to account for inflation.
After months of planning, board meeting reports, a budget workshop, and two public hearings on the district’s financial future, the approved budget is the latest step in the board’s ambitious pursuit of becoming the fastest improving and highest achieving district in metro Atlanta.
About Henry County Schools
Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 students to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.
HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.