COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Education reviewed a draft budget for 2019-20 at a special called meeting earlier this week. Included in the budget is a $3,000 pay raise for all certified employees as well as a 2% pay raise for all other employees in the Newton County School System.

The tentative budget for 2019-20 includes revenue of $186.3 million – $56.7 million obtained from local sources and $121.3 from the state. The local contribution is increasing by $904,864 and the state input by more than $6 million.

About $6.9 million will have to be drawn from the reserve fund to match the projected expenditures of $193 million.

Predicted expenditure increases include $8.5 million for salary hikes and $1.5 million for additional positions recommended in a Efficiency and Effectiveness study as well as as personnel requests.

If the board chooses to approve these additional positions, there will be five options for the ending fund balance:

Option A would provide a pay increase of $3,000 for all certified employees and a 2% raise for all non-certified employees. The 2019-20 beginning fund balance would be $31 million and the ending fund balance would be $27 million.

Option B includes the $3,000 raise but also a permanent 2% pay increase, putting the ending fund balance at $25 million.

Option C would be the same as Option B with the addition of six new positions as identified in the EE study, increasing the expenditures and reducing the ending fund balance by $510,000.

Instead of six new positions, Option D accounts for seven and a half new positions, tacking on an additional $70,000 in expenses.

Lastly, Option E combines all the recommended positions and pay raises, making the expenditures jump to $193,226,389 and leaving the ending fund balance at $24,260,110.

The state recommends the district keep at least 7 percent, or $13.2 million, of the general fund balance in its ending fund balance.

All amounts are subject to change prior to the approval of the final budget in June.

The school system also discussed data showing that more than 86 percent of general fund expenses at NCSS go toward salaries and benefits. The district also spends more on instruction-related expenses compared to the average of all school systems in the state.

In addition to the budget, capital projects, which are paid through the special purpose local option sales tax were also reviewed by board members. Nearly $12.4 million has been itemized for expenses such as debt payment, paving projects and technology upgrades.

It also includes $1.1 million for roof repair and replacement, $1.1 million for security improvements, $75,000 for secondary schools’ band equipment upgrades and $1.6 million for school bus purchases.

While looking through the charts and tables provided by each department head, board member Eddie Johnson requested that Michael Barr, chief officer of operations, take a look at cutting down the expense of student transportation.

Board members Abigail Coggin and Trey Bailey expressed their gratitude for Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey as well as the teams’ work.

A copy of the tentative budget is available for review at the Board of Education office at 2109 Newton Drive. The Board will vote on the tentative budget on Tuesday, May 14. A final budget will be adopted at a board meeting on June 11.

Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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