The more than $2.9 billion balanced budget is up slightly from the originally proposed budget that the Board approved in August, and consists of a $536 million capital budget and $1.28 billion operating budget.
Projected enrollment, coupled with the approximately 500 students that the District gained back due to Controlled Open Enrollment, adds 183 new school-based jobs.
A fund balance from the 2017 budget allowed for the District to increase the funding for an employee salary consideration to $22 million from the $10.7 million originally projected when the budget was presented last month. However, the budget also reflects an increase of $43.6 million in fringe benefits for employees including health care costs, workman’s comp, liability insurance and an increase in the District’s contribution to employee retirement accounts.
The School Board members in attendance voted unanimously to approve the budget, with School Board Chairman Chuck Shaw echoing the Board’s displeasure with the passage of House Bill 7069 and what he called the “continued attack” on the District’s ability to “home rule” when determining the millage rate needed for each District to fund education.
While the budget does include the additional $100 funding per students that was included in House Bill 7069, the Bill’s required funding of charter schools capital needs cost the School District $10 million.
State funding of education continues to fall considerably short of previous education funding that was drastically cut during the 2008 recession, and a cap on the millage rate increase costs the District $149.9 million in lost revenue this year, while only saving the average homeowner about $60.
Students and faculty have already begun to see the benefits of the additional $361.1 million added to the Capital Budget thanks to the penny tax referendum passed in November. Projects that have been accelerated due to those from those funds include: $25 million in classroom technology, the design of an addition to Forest Hill High School, the modernization of Verden and Washington Elementary schools and the remodeling of Riviera Beach Prep, while also beginning construction on the new high school in western Palm Beach County and the addition of a middle school in Boynton Beach.
While this year’s budget is just being passed, work has already begun on the FY 2019, and staff is working on initiatives to realign Exceptional Student Education and English Speakers of Other Languages staff allocations to meet the needs of the students.
School budgets will be released in February.