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First look at Fulton Schools FY18 budget includes staff raises

Operating expenses expected to rise by about 6 percent



FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Employees of the Fulton County School System will be the biggest benefactors of increasing revenue in Fiscal Year 2018, with more than $22 million of the additional $57 million expected to be directed toward salary increases.

Details of the proposed FY18 budget were reviewed during a meeting of the Fulton Board of Education on March 13. Superintendent Jeff Rose said the priority of the system is to continue to attract and retain top talent in a very competitive Atlanta metro market.

“I’m pleased to present a prudent plan that enables the district to put students and classrooms first, invests in our employees through increased compensation and aligns to our School Board’s priorities,” said Rose, who is overseeing his first budget since being hired in June 2016.

The general fund budget for FY18 is proposed at just over $1 billion; about 6 percent more than the current fiscal year budget. While expected tax revenues will cover the vast majority of expenditures, the system is proposing a $4 million withdrawal from the healthy reserve fund to make up the difference.

Rose is proposing a 2 percent salary increase for all teachers, with step increases for those eligible. A 1 percent increase is proposed for all non-teaching staff, in addition to eligible step increases.

This is the seventh year in a row that Fulton Schools has provided increased compensation to employees, either through salary increases or one-time bonuses.

The proposed budget keeps class sizes the same, which may irk many residents who have long lobbied for smaller classes, primarily in the elementary grades. The budget does not include any staff reductions.

Despite an increase in tax revenues expected from rising property values, Fulton taxpayers will not see that increase returned to them in the form of a millage reduction. The millage rate of 18.483 is projected to remain unchanged in FY18, although it remains the lowest rate in the metro Atlanta area.

Revenues coming into the school system are expected to rise by nearly 6 percent in FY18, primarily at the local level as the economic recovery appears to be fully charged.

Although state contributions will increase by more than 3 percent – primarily because of additional students expected – Fulton taxpayers continue to carry the bulk of school funding. In FY18, local tax revenues will contribute 63 cents of every dollar spent in Fulton Schools, with the state covering the rest. No federal dollars are used in the general fund budget.

Public hearings on the proposed budget will be held May 9 at the North Learning Center, starting at 6:30 p.m. The FY 2018 budget is expected to be tentatively approved May 18, with final adoption slated for June 13.

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