The Hall County School Board of Education gathered at Lanier Technical College Monday night to address the budget for the upcoming school year.
Hall County Schools will not receive the state equalization fund next year. This will result in a loss of $5 million for the district.
The state equalization fund is determined by per-pupil wealth.
“We for the first time had other districts who are ahead of us in terms of being poor,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. “We no longer qualify. The legislature sets a specific amount that will be an equalization. And then you have to qualify by your ranking in terms of how poor or how rich you are as a district.”
However, Schofield pointed out that the district will not experience any austerity cuts. This positive change will result in an additional $6.4 million of state revenue.
“[The Georgia Department of Education] would use the Quality Basic Education formula to determine how much your district got, and then say, ‘oh, but we don't have enough,’” Schofield said. “So everybody gets a little less than proportionally, we always call that the austerity cut.”
Schofield said that it is unclear when the district will receive the exact digest and determine which schools are exempt, but claimed the local digest will increase substantially.
The board also cited inflation as a concern, which has impacted many operations like transportation and energy. Schofield suggested a potential raise for Hall County School’s 3,400 employees as they experience inflation’s effects.
“[Employees] are also contending with inflation in their daily lives,” Schofield said. “We hear every day that districts around us are trying to do the same. And it's making it increasingly difficult to staff, particularly a lot of our classified positions.”
The biggest challenge will be maintaining these competitive pay raises once inflation eventually calms.
“What I worry about is when the economy turns, and it will, that we haven't set ourselves up to try to sustain things that are unsustainable,” Schofield said.