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Final Fiscal Preparations Underway for Upcoming School Year

Submission Date: July 28, 2020

Release Date:  For Immediate Release

Contact: J.D. Hardin, 770-957-6601 ext. 161, john.hardin@henry.k12.ga.us

(Release # 0004-7-2020)

Final Fiscal Preparations Underway for Upcoming School Year  

Final Fiscal Preparations Underway for Upcoming School Year

First local budget hearing set for Monday, August 10 at 6:30 p.m.

HENRY COUNTY, GA – The shutdown of schools all across Georgia and the suspension of the 2020 General Assembly resulted in a pause for the planning of the FY21 budget.  This important process is one that started for Henry County Schools back at the beginning of 2020 with several community meetings and presentations, and the goal was to have things wrapped up in advance of the July 1 fiscal year start date as required by law.

While Henry County Schools would normally have the budget for the next year approved by now, the delay in seeing what funds would be received from the state put the final approval process on hold for the time being.  The Georgia General Assembly finally approved a FY21 operating budget for the year on Friday, June 26.  The good news is that the anticipated cuts were not as bad as first predicted.  The unfortunate news is that there are still cuts to state education.

State funding makes up just over 60 percent of the district’s overall budget, so the state legislature’s passage of the state budget was important for the board of education to be able to set theirs.  Cuts to education funding averaged out to be 10 percent, coupled with other state funding sources, and that impact can and will be felt in different ways by different school districts.

Thanks to measures taken by the current Henry County Board of Education, the district is in solid financial shape to weather the fiscal impact that could have been a lot worse had it not been for prudent fiscal planning and savings for times such as these.

Of note, there are no anticipated furlough days for HCS employees.  Additionally, all salary schedules will be honored and steps will be effective when the budget is approved.

“Our board has had a strong commitment to continuing the fiscally responsible approach of balancing a budget while being able to put back money into the district’s fund balance, or reserves,” said Board Chair Josh Hinton.  “Two of our core beliefs and commitments center around student learning and a valued professional workforce.  Those two components constitute the focus of our fiscal planning.”

While the state’s forecast and final numbers may show decreases for direct funding to the district, there are other areas and efforts to supplement the anticipated declines. 

Currently, the district is set to see decreases in the state funding by approximately $41 million, including decreases in the equalization grant and local 5 Mills.  However, a stronger than anticipated local economic outlook shows that the district will receive an increase of just over $5 million thanks to healthier local tax revenues compared to the previous year.  While local revenues have traditionally accounted for roughly 39 percent of the district’s annual revenues, this year they will account for close to 44 percent of the district’s revenues.

Known positive outcomes for the district budget are possible thanks to a decrease in the pace of spending from July 2019 to March 2020, essential spending resolutions in 2020 from April to June, and funds from the federal government’s CARES Act.

“We are now ready to present a tentative budget to the board during the August regularly scheduled meetings, with the two required budget hearings mixed in,” said Willis.  “Our first budget hearing will be Monday, August 10 at 6:30 p.m. where we will be able to give greater detail to the impact of the state government actions and economic impacts on the final budget.”

In the absence of an approved budget, albeit the result of the state delaying the approval of their own budget, Henry County Schools has utilized a state provision to adopt emergency spending resolutions for July and August to bridge the gap until the district’s FY21 budget is formally adopted by the local board of education. 

“This emergency spending resolution is for essential expenditures and general operating costs until we get to an approved operational budget,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis.  “Our plan is to have a final budget adopted by the end of August.

“Our board has worked hard to put our district in the position it is in to ensure our ambitious pursuit is not derailed.  Our students will continue to receive the highest-quality education and our workforce will continue to be valued through a commitment to compensation and benefits for their job families.”

Budget hearings will be broadcast via the district’s website.  Interested viewers can use the Board of Education tab and select Board Meetings to find the OnDemand option.

For more information on Henry County Schools, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us.

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JD Hardin
john.hardin@henry.k12.ga.us
770-957-6601 x 01161