With the ongoing pandemic interrupting nearly every part of everyday business, it’s no surprise it’s taken so long for the school systems to tackle budgets, but both are ready to go, with the Walton schools nearly ready with its final budget, while Social Circle discussed its own Thursday at an online budget hearing.

In fact, the Walton County School District only received its allotment sheet from the state, informing it of its share of state funding for the coming school year, in the last week.

“We usually get this in April,” WCSD superintendent Nathan Franklin said Tuesday night at the work session for the Walton County Board of Education. “The first three versions all had errors, too. The first one was off by millions.”

Still, the budget is nearing completion, even if in a more rapid state than usual.

The budget is tighter than in a long time. Although not as high as the $11.3 million shortfall expected in June, the final numbers show the system will received $8.75 million less this year from the state than last year, higher than the $5 million cut the system experienced in 2010 during the Great Recession.

Thankfully, local revenue is actually up this year, which was not the case in 2010. The system is putting in a millage rate of 19.1, lower than last year’s 20.9, but above the rollback rate. While final numbers are pending, last year’s budget came in at $131.2 million, and the system hopes to cut as little as possible.

The tentative budget will be unveiled Tuesday, when the board will vote on it at its monthly board meeting.

Social Circle discussed its own budget concerns Thursday night in a budget hearing designed to find ways to manage its own cuts.

The system actually will see a 9.4 percent increase in revenue from the millage rate, which will remain at 19.278, above the rollback rate.

But that will only compensate somewhat for a 10 percent decrease in state revenue worth $1.1 million. Although the system managed to cut 6 percent in expenditures from last year, it also lost 4 percent in overall revenue, forcing the system to use $1.2 million in fund balance to balance the $18 million budget.

That’s an overall decrease from last year’s $19.1 million budget. Cuts include five fewer working days for teachers and school employees, and seven fewer days for administrators.

The board will approve this tentative budget Thursday at its monthly board meeting, which will be held in person in the Social Circle Middle School gym to allow for social distancing among spectators.

News Editor

Stephen Milligan is the news editor of The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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