|Contact:||Dean Jackson Office of Public Information|
Press Release – August 15, 2012
Coweta County School Board maintains same millage rate for 2012-13 Fiscal Year
The Coweta County Board of Education voted to maintain property tax rates at 18.59 mills for maintenance and operations of the school system during the 2013 Fiscal Year, at their regular meeting on August 14. The rate is unchanged from previous years.
The board also set property tax rates for bonded indebtedness at 0.0 mills. Both millage rates approved by the Board maintain property tax rates at a total of 18.59 mills, which the Board has maintained since first setting that rate in the summer of 2004.
The millage rate levies local revenues for the operation of the school system. The school system’s operational budget of $168,516,698 for the 2013 fiscal year (FY 2013) was approved at the Board’s June regular meeting, held on Tuesday, June 12.
The budget and the millage rates cover the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, and ending June 30, 2013. The budget includes school system operations and other expenditures during the upcoming fiscal year.
The FY 2013 budget does not differ substantially from the Coweta County School System’s FY 2012 operational budget, with no reductions in K-12 academic offerings.
Coweta County School System funding has been reduced since FY 2003 because of state cuts instituted as a result of lower state revenue collections. There have also been decreases in local tax revenue in the two most recent fiscal years, and a slight decrease in the tax digest was budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year.
The Coweta County School System has faced a number of challenges for the FY 2013 budget, including:
- A continuation of austerity cuts to state funding.
- A revenue reduction of approximately $4.2 million in state funding due to the legislature voting to adjust the formula used for distribution of equalization funds for school districts.
- A revenue reduction of approximately $1 million in state funding due to a recalculation of the Local Fair Share of the school system.
- An expenditure increase of approximately $1.8 million will occur due to an increase in employer rates for classified employees’ health insurance.
- A 3.21 percent decrease in the local tax digest.
Superintendent Steve Barker noted that the school board anticipated this year’s current shortfall due to a continuation of state budget cuts, an ending to federal emergency funding, the increase in insurance costs for non-certified employees, and an additional decrease in state funding due to a recalculation of the state’s equalization formula (though the size of this year’s decrease in state funding due to equalization was more than expected).
The school board has built and maintained the school system’s reserves over several years in anticipation of steep declines in revenue, which allowed Superintendent Barker to make the following recommendations for the FY 2013 budget to the school board:
- No additional cuts in educational programs or services.
- No reduction in the school system’s 180 instructional days for students.
- No salary reductions for employees working 180 days or less, other than state-budgeted Pre-K reductions (which has already been set by the state at 179 days).
- A slight increase in average class sizes, amounting to an additional 1 student in Kindergarten and 1 student in second and third grade classes.
The Board adopted those recommendations during their approval of the budget. The school system will use a portion of its fund balance to cover this year’s expected shortfall in funding from the state.
$10.4 million in operational reserves are being budgeted to cover those revenue shortfalls in FY 2013. However, provided that the school system is able to continue creating budget savings during FY 2013 (as it did in FY 2012 and in several previous fiscal years), actual reserves used could be as low as $7.5 million.
The system has historically operated with a fund balance of between 6 and 8 percent of operations. Use of only $7.5 million of reserves will leave the school system with approximately 8 percent of operations in its fund balance. The system will be able to meet payroll obligations and maintain an adequate cash flow without borrowing, and will be able to cover worker’s compensation and unemployment with existing balances.
The FY 2013 school system budget includes a General Fund budget of $168,516,698. That budget is funded principally by state revenues and local property taxes, and reflects an increase from the school system’s General Fund budget of $165,483,455 adopted for FY 2012, and a decrease from the $175,931,581 budget adopted for FY 2009. The General Fund includes the largest portion of funding for instruction and pupil services, maintenance and operation of schools, transportation, and other operational costs.
In addition to the $168.5 million General Fund, there were three other components approved by the board as a part of its total FY 2013 budget.
They include $22,320,106 in Special Revenue Funds, which accounts for funding sent to special federal programs such as Title I, federal lunch programs, and IDEA.
Also included is $50,334,681 in Capital Projects Funds, which accounts for construction and other capital expenditures during the year. School construction and debt service are funded principally by Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) revenues. The system also receives some state funding for construction.
Debt Service payments are made from ESPLOST collections already on-hand and set aside specifically towards short-term (five-year) bonds issued for construction projects under the current one-cent ESPLOST. $17,440,500 in Debt Service expenditures are budgeted for FY 2013, which will retire outstanding bonds held by the school system on February 1, 2013.
Those funds, combined with operations funds, total $258,611,985.
Coweta County Superintendent Steve Barker, left, and Coweta County Board of Education Chairman Sue Brown, right, at the Board’s Tuesday, August 14 regular meeting.