Budget season is upon the local school systems, as both the Walton County and Social Circle boards of education consider budget options heading into the summer hiatus.
The Social Circle Board of Education went ahead and approved its general budget, which is set at $20.7 million for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
This is an increase from its budget from last year, which came in at $19 million, with a 19.278 millage rate.
The school board has yet to set an official millage rate for the upcoming school year as it waits for the county to set its own tax allocations.
The Walton County Board of Education expects to pass a tentative budget, as it too waits for the county to set the tax digest for the coming fiscal year, next month, but discussed one particular need for the budgeting process in the wake of national news in recent weeks.
Coleman Landers, chairman of the WCBOE, said the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas, had the board reconsidering certain priorities and the need for additional safety funding.
“We are going to look at some changes to the budget as it pertains to school safety,” Landers said. “It may take a little bit more money, but we’re confident we can make changes for the security of our campuses, students and employees.”
The Walton County School District has made quite a few changes in school safety designs in recent years, installing a double layer of locked safety doors at every campus to prevent unwanted access to the building, put in video doorbells at every campus to require visitors to identify themselves before entering the front office and more.
WCSD Superintendent Nathan Franklin, however, said there’s still more to be done.
“This board has made safety a priority,” Franklin said. “We’ve been working with our law enforcement partners on that. We already have student resource officers at all 15 school buildings, but we want to make our SROs at the elementary schools full-time.”
Currently, SROs rotate between the district’s nine elementary schools, with only the SROs at the middle and high schools spending all day at one campus. While Franklin said they would have to spend more to give every elementary building a full-time SRO, it would be worth it.
“The dollars we spend on this in the budget will make sure we have every advantage we can,” Franklin said.
In other school news, the SCBOE also accepted the resignation of Social Circle Middle School Principal Lottie Aziamadi and appointed Ryan Clark to fill the position as interim principal until a full-time replacement can be hired.