SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County Board of Education’s budget numbers for fiscal year 2020 are positive for its employees and taxpayers.
During Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting, the board approved a millage roll-back rate of 16.468, marking the second straight year that the school district has not experienced an overall tax increase.
“I think it’s a very conservative budget in terms of revenue and expenses,” Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse said.
The $122 million budget includes $3,000 raises for certified employees — those who require a teaching certificate for their position — and a 4 percent hike for non-certified employees. The State of Georgia had called for a 2 percent hike for non-certified workers.
Before the board OK'd a new non-certified salary schedule, Executive Director of Human Resources Susan Hartzog said, “I am just very, very thankful that we are even considering four percent instead of two percent because it is a huge recruiting tool.”
Hartzog noted that a paraprofessional opening at Blandford Elementary School recently drew eight “highly qualified” applicants.
“It makes our jobs very, very attractive, so thank you for going above and beyond, and considering that extra increase," she said.
School employee positions were added to meet the needs of the district’s increasing enrollment while also supporting schools in maintaining or reducing class sizes.
In addition, several schools are slated to receive air conditioning and lighting upgrades, and one — South Effingham Elementary — will undergo a 12-classroom expansion to accommodate a growing number of staff and students. The expansion is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2020.
In line with its recent focus on student safety, the board voted to install a new radio in every bus in the system. The cost is $417,000.
“It is a big expense but you have to be able to communicate,” said Shearouse, who recommended the purchase.
The board also voted to declare 25 acres on Hodgeville Road surplus property. It will accept bids for the land.
The district’s employee handbooks also received approval with minimal changes from last year. Most of alterations centered on workers’ compensation insurance.