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FCS Budget Update: April 2, 2021

The annual Fulton County School (FCS) budget proceedings have been underway for several months, and we want to continuously keep our community informed about the Fiscal Year 2022 planning process. This report is part of a series of budget updates that will occur between now and the Board’s final vote later this spring.

On March 31, the Georgia General Assembly finalized the state’s budget, with more than $10 billion allocated for K-12 education. State funds represent a significant portion of FCS’ total budget with this year’s allocation equating to approximately 37% compared to more than 60% coming from local tax revenue. The balance comes from federal funds and grants.  With this information, and now that local tax revenue projections are in, we are able to finalize budget recommendations for the Board’s consideration.  At the April 15 meeting, Superintendent Mike Looney and CFO Marvin Dereef will present a draft for the Board’s review.

As Board members begin the formal process for reviewing budget data, the first of several updates on the proposed FY 2022 budget was presented at the March 18 Board meeting, which included a review of federal funds and self-supporting programs (CARES Act, Title I, Title VI-B, pre-kindergarten, school nutrition, and retirement services/pension).

Also this week, the Georgia Board of Education approved funding for the American Recovery Plan Act, of which FCS is receiving more than $168 million dollars, to help schools recover from COVID-19. This is the third round of federal stimulus funding Georgia schools have received. The district was also allocated $18 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds in January, and an additional $75 million in COVID relief funding in May (CARES II), the majority of which will be used to cover costs related to student learning recovery and supporting employees. CARES Act II funds will be received and disbursed over the next 18 months to two years and will support our students and staff and fund the district’s FOCUS initiative, which is designed to addresses the impact of the pandemic on lost instruction and learning.

Of special note, due to strong financial management and policy leadership by the Fulton Board of Education and finance department, the district has recently reached two important milestones. First, the Fulton County Schools Employees' Pension Fund has reached $500 million in assets and is on track to be fully funded by 2025. Secondly, the district recently made the final payment on our Debt Service funds for a general obligation bond series which was refinanced in 1998. Thanks to the generosity of our taxpayers through the one-penny SPLOST, FCS is now one of the only metro area school districts free of bond debt for construction.

Our District strategy continues to include ongoing monitoring of funding sources as well as projected expenditures for FY2022.The next budget presentation will be given April 15, with public hearings held May 4 and May 13, as community input from Fulton stakeholders is always vital to our budget procedures. The Board’s final budget adoption vote is scheduled for June 8.

Additional information will continue to be shared with internal and external stakeholders during this year’s annual budget process. Please remain on the lookout for further communication.