The Forsyth County Board of Education has completed the approval of a $520 million budget for its school district. This finalization comes after the district’s June 15th meeting, which saw the support of pay increases for all employees and more funding directed at new school openings.

In April, CFO Larry Hammel initially presented the board with a tentative budget before state and local revenues were completed.

In the buildup since April, board members suggested that he include a one percent cost of living adjustment for all employees and bring up the percentage of fund balances to 15 percent. 

Hammel made both changes and worked them into the budget after removing them from the budget last year due to pandemic-related cuts.

The Board of Education unanimously approved the budget for the fiscal year of 2022, which came out to a total of $520,120,671.

While the budget is significantly higher than previous years, some of the budget will be going towards the opening of new facilities, as referenced through the 123 new positions that the district expects to fill. 

Some of the various positions that will be filled include 26 new custodians across various buildings, a principal for New Hope Elementary School, four assistant principals for East Forsyth High School and Hendricks Middle School, and 26 new custodians across the new buildings. Seventy-two percent of the budget will be allocated to instruction, which covers employees’ salaries and benefits as well as operating expenses. Hammel also said that they would plan to bring down the estimated balance at the beginning of the year to approximately $78 million, which would equal 14% of the 2022 fiscal year’s budget.

“This is something we’ve been working on now for more than six months,” Superintendent Dr. Bearden said. “A lot of input from board members, a lot of individual meetings going through the needs of the school system. I think it’s a very cost-efficient budget.” Several board members are delighted with the approved budget, which gives employees much-needed raises after a peculiar year that was altered by the pandemic.

While the school district has already used a portion of its pandemic relief fund on bonuses for teachers, the board members felt it was essential to ensure that they fit raises for teachers back into the budget.

“We’re able to go back to where we were before COVID, and we’re able to give the teachers back their step raises,” Vice Chair Wes McCall said. “We’re able to give them the COLA they deserve I think.”

The entire board and Bearden thanked Hammel for his work.

With education easing back into normality, it will be fascinating to see how funding is affected and how school districts react to these changes.

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