The Dawson County Board of Education is preparing to vote on the proposed $44 million budget for the 2021-22 school year.
According to Superintendent Damon Gibbs, the tentative budget that school officials have been working on includes $44,896,468 in general fund dollars, $3,407,875 in debt service funding through ESPLOST, $18,828,356 in capital projects funding through ESPLOST and $6,123,046 in special revenue funding.
The general fund budget for the upcoming school year includes $600,000 to fund three new teacher positions, two sign language interpreters, two technology positions and one courier. According to Gibbs, funding for additional positions is also being built into the general fund budget in preparation for growth that is expected for the school system.
“Funds for additional positions are also built-in,” Gibbs said. “We are experiencing significant housing growth in the county and anticipate student enrollment to increase.”
The general fund also includes $639,000 for employee step raises and salary adjustments, and $193,000 for teacher retirement rate increases.
Gibbs said that the special revenue fund budget includes $1.3 million in funding from Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES III) and American Recovery Plan acts (ARPA), which will provide funding to schools over the next three years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gibbs said that the $1.3 million from the first year’s portion of this funding will go towards several things, like a new classroom at Robinson Elementary School and several new positions.
Gibbs said that this funding will continue on through the next school years, with an anticipated $1.1 million in the 2022-23 school year and another $1.3 million in the 2023-24 school year.
According to Gibbs, most of the larger projects and expenses included in the upcoming budget will be funded by ESPLOST, like the new agricultural science and multi-purpose facilities at Dawson County High School.
“We are in the final design phase and both will begin construction in the late summer and fall,” Gibbs said.
Unprecedented circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic made the 2020-21 budget unusual, Gibbs said, but school officials are optimistic going into a new school year with a new budget.
“This past year was very difficult,” Gibbs said. “We are in a very good position moving into FY22 and look forward to continuing the expansion of educational opportunities for the students of Dawson County.”
The Dawson County BOE held a public hearing and voted to approve the tentative 2021-22 budget at its May board meeting. Board members will hold a second and final public hearing and vote on the budget at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, June 15.