BOE budget hearings rescheduled in June

Presentation slide estimating the loss in state funding for FY 2021 (Henry County Schools photo)
Henry County Schools estimates state funding will decrease nearly $20 million in FY 2021. (Henry County Schools presentation)

The Henry County Board of Education has adjusted its budget calendar in response to COVID-19 and rescheduled budget adoption from May to June. Budget public hearings will be held on June 8 and June 22.

The adjusted calendar allows more time for the Georgia General Assembly to reconvene and approve the FY 21 state budget, including state funding for K-12 education, before the district adopts its fiscal year budget. The general assembly suspended its session in mid-March and no timetable has been set for lawmakers to return to the capitol.

The updated calendar was presented to the school board during their April meeting. BOE Vice-Chair Holly Cobb commented “I am grateful that we are adjusting our budget calendar. I want to ensure we have the time that we need to have these very important discussions.”

State funding estimated to decrease nearly $20 million dollars

District staff estimate Henry County Schools will see a reduction in state funding equaling nearly $20 million dollars through the local five mill share and equalization grant. Both processes adjust state funding amounts based on the value of a local county’s property tax digest, giving less funds to higher-valued areas.

Though increases to the property tax digest are often celebrated by county and city governments, few realize the school district is negatively impacted. The additional dollars from local property tax collections do not necessarily balance out the loss in state funding.

In FY 19, the school district saw a reduction of $8.1 million in state funding followed by $3.9 million in the current fiscal year. This does not affect per-pupil formula funding as student enrollment increases.

Through better tracking and reporting of district services, the BOE has been able to receive an additional $3.1 million from the state in FY 20 and estimates a return of $3.6 million in FY 21. The district invested much of this year’s increase — $2.5 million — in general fund reserves and is well-positioned to respond to any financial impacts that may arise from the COVID-19 pandemic.