CAIRO -- At a called meeting Tuesday, the Grady County Board of Education discussed the proposed FY 2006 budget of $26,824,044, an increase of $724,744 from FY 2005.

"While we still have many needs in our school system, I believe this budget represents a balance between meeting the educational needs of our students and fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Grady County," said Steve Wooten, superintendent of Grady County schools.

A breath of fresh air for taxpayers is, for the fifth year, there is no increase in local property taxes over the previous year. It holds steady at $5,720,464.

The FY 2006 budget is comprised of functions instruction, pupil services, improvement of instructional services, educational media services, general administration, school administration, support services-business, maintenance and operation of plant services, student transportation service, support services-central and other outlays.

Instruction money came to $18,493,678, with going $18,047,066 toward salaries and $446,612 towards equipment purchases. Certified staff salaries have a 2-5 percent increase. Support staff have a 2-3 percent increase.

Pupil services has a projected budget of $863,975. These include athletics personnel, school nurse/special education nurse, school psychologist, school social worker, extra-curricular personnel (non-athletic), state health insurance, teachers retirement and resource officer. The biggest change was a $20,800 increase due to the hiring of an additional school social worker.

There is an 8.3 percent increase in health insurance rates.

The biggest news in instructional services is the addition of a part-time hire for an instructional coordinator. The proposed amount for this function is $1,097,009.

Educational media services has a projected amount of $842,360 that includes supplies and the schools' 25 percent contribution to funding Roddenbery Memorial Library. Wooten said the city pays 50 percent and the county pays the other 25 percent.

General administration has a budget of $263,000. This section includes money for the superintendent, the central office (clerical) and school board members' per diem.

The next function in the proposed budget is school administration. The FY 2006 projected amount is $1,700,783 and includes all the system's principals, assistant principals, clerical salaries and salaries for other administration personnel.

Support services-business garnered an amount of $193,000. This is Dan Broome, financial director's, area. He said planning the budget begins early in the year. Around April, formal requests are sent out to principals for a list of what each school needs.

"We try to have it put together as precisely as we can to have it published and approved by June 30," said Broome.

Maintenance and operation of plant services has a suggested amount of $2,376,626.

"This is what we spend outside the buildings on the yards, equipment and technology," said Wooten.

It also includes custodial services.

Student transportation service includes bus drivers, transportation director, auto insurance, fuel costs and bus purchases. Due to the fluctuating costs of fuel, this item had a 33 percent increase from $90,000 to $120,000. Bus purchases will come out of SPLOST money. The projected amount for this section is $807,700.

Support services-central has a proposed amount of $85,913 and includes all other items handled in the main office such as teacher recruitment.

Other outlays, the last section on the budget, is for the interest on long-term debt and redemption of bond principal.

"This is where we will start paying back the $6 million we bought in bonds for additional SPLOST projects," said Wooten.

The board has until its June meeting to look over the proposed budget.

"We're really just looking at numbers to see if they have any questions and get the board's input before we tentatively adopt the budget," said Broome.

Wooten said this should occur at the Board's June meeting. If there are no problems with the numbers, the Board will tentatively approve the budget, advertise it for two weeks, schedule a called meeting and formally approve it.

Reporter Teresa Williams can be contacted at (229) 226-2400, ext. 225.

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