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Board of Education approves budget, funds full instructional calendar year

The Tift County Board of Education approved the tentative budget for the 2015-16 school year at its May meeting. The $59 million general fund budget includes no unpaid staff days for the first time since 2008-09.

“We were very pleased to be able to fund a full instructional calendar for our staff and students,” said Kim Rutland, Board of Education Chairman. “Providing all that we can for our students is always our priority.”

Approximately 71 percent of the budget goes directly to classroom instruction. The remaining 29 percent is divided among items such as student services (nurses, therapists, social workers, etc.), maintenance and operations, administration, professional development and other support services.

Major increased expenditures for the year include approximately $800,000 for certified staff step raises and $500,000 in increased costs for non-certified health insurances (primarily paraprofessionals and bus drivers). Returning to a full instructional calendar for students costs the system $675,000, at an approximate cost of $225,000 per day.

The board works each year to attract and keep quality teachers by making sure teacher and staff salaries are competitive with other similar school districts. With locally-paid supplements and the benefit of Social Security, Tift County teachers’ compensation is at or above other systems in the region.

“Providing quality salaries and benefits for our staff is necessary to provide our students with the quality education they deserve,” Rutland said.