It's been an unpredictable and delayed process, but the Cartersville City School System has a budget for fiscal year 2021.
After the second state-mandated public hearing Monday night, the school board voted 6-0, with Ward 5 board member Louise Panter absent, to approve the 2020-21 consolidated budget in the amount of $58,595,993, an increase of 4.3% over last year's budget.
The final version was $121,330 more than the tentative budget due to funding from the state being less than expected and the cost of platforms for the new virtual academy being finalized.
"The state numbers changed," Finance Chairman Tim Chason said. "There was a decrease in what they originally told us due to a mistake the state made, not us."
Chason said the FY21 budget is "very lean and very conservative considering all of the factors that have been in play since March."
"Our team of principals, internal central office staff and the superintendent have carefully crafted this budget to meet the needs of 2021," he said. "We also are aware that we have to continue to plan for the future as we have been doing for many years in terms of upgrading facilities and infrastructure on our campuses."
He also said funds that the school district has saved over the years "will come into play this year in our operating budget as well as in our facility planning."
Board members also unanimously approved recommending to the city of Cartersville the millage rate of 14.576 mills, the same rate as last year, provided there is not a significant change to the preliminary tax digest of $1,208,712,873.
"The finance committee looked at this very closely with Richard's [Dyke, the chief financial officer] assistance and [Superintendent] Dr. [Marc] Feuerbach's assistance, and we do not feel like we can have a rollback in the taxes this year," Chason said. "There are a couple of other facts to mix with this, and I think those facts are very important that we recognize what is there."
One factor is the $2.35 million "COVID reduction" in state funding, he said.
But the school system will receive $730,199 in CARES Act funding from the federal government for the next fiscal year, he added.
"We have budgeted very conservatively and lean," he said. "There are step increases that are in the budget as we had anticipated. There are a few new staff positions, teacher positions, due to the fact of growth that we're adding still."
Chason said he thinks the tax digest will change "some," but "how much, I don't know, and we won't know until all the [reassessment] appeals have been heard and pieces have all come together with this."
With no rollback, the board will be required to hold three public hearings with the Cartersville City Council on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on the third floor of Cartersville City Hall.
The board also unanimously approved the 2020-21 revised school calendar.
Besides changing the start date to Aug. 18, district officials added Sept. 8 as the anticipated date for all students who didn't opt to take their classes online to be back in their schools full time, eliminated the early release day on Feb. 12 and pushed the last day of school and graduation to May 28.
Board members unanimously approved license agreements between the school system and K-5 Accelerate Education at a cost of $73,880 and the system and Edgenuity Inc. at a cost of $58,200 to provide the curriculum for students in grades K-5 and grades 6-12, respectively, who are choosing to attend Cartersville Virtual Academy this year.
Three bids for band instruments for the high school and middle school were awarded to low bidders Washington Music Center for $16,567.70, Taylor Music Inc. for $15,550 and National Educational Music Co. for $7,383.69. Funds will come from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax account.
The next scheduled board meeting will be Monday, Aug. 10, at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium.