The School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the Fiscal Year 2018 tentative budget and millage rate for the 2017-2018 school year.
The FY 2018 tentative budget is approximately $2.9 billion, up from $2.5 billion last year — an increase attributed to the increase in the capital budget from the one-cent sales tax approved by voters in November.
The proposed capital budget totals $524.9 million, which is dedicated to construction, maintenance, technology and buses.
The $1.85 billion operating budget, also known as the general fund, covers salaries and benefits including 183.5 new teachers and support staff to accommodate a projected increase in students, professional development, utilities and other day-to-day operating expenses.
While the approved tentative millage rate assessed to homeowners is below the rate for Fiscal Year 2017, District Chief Financial Officer Mike Burke explained that the Board is limited by the state legislature for what the District can to do raise funds to cover the growing number of students in Palm Beach County.
“Even though property values have increased, the Legislature continues to reduce the state portion of the millage rate; thereby negating any increase in revenue,” Burke says. “We’re not able to benefit from the natural growth of our community.
“[The cap] takes $32.5 million off the table and Palm Beach County Schools could have really benefited from that.”
Other considerations in the tentative budget approved include:
- $25 million in classroom technology projects;
- Design of an addition to Forest Hill High School;
- Begin construction of the new high school in the western Lake Worth area and middle school in the Sunset Palms area in Boynton Beach, modernization of Verde and Washington elementary schools and remodeling of Riviera Beach Prep;
- Set aside of $10.7 million for District employee salary considerations;
- Shifted $1.25 million in Title I programs to the general fund for one year due to new state mandated limits in Title I included in House Bill 7069;
- Additional $2.5 million to provide an additional 30 minutes of reading for 10 additional District schools identified by the Florida Department of Education as Low 300.
Burke said that the District is closing the books for 2017, and the fund balance will be committed directly to fund employee salaries, as it has in past years.
The vote was the first public hearing for the budget after months of meetings of the Budget Advisory meeting and a Board Workshop that was held last week.
The tentative Budget is set to go before the Board for final approval on September 6. The public hearing is set for 5:05 p.m.
To read the Executive Summary of the tentative FY 2018 budget, click here.