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No tax increase expected from Pike schools

The Pike County school board discussed the 2024 proposed budget at May 24 and May 30 public hearings and will consider the $38 million budget for final adoption at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 6 at the Pike County School Memorial Annex at 7454 Highway 19 south in Zebulon.

The state will fund $25.3 million of the budget and $12.5 million comes from local sources, including $10.6 million in M&O tax revenues, $1.5 million in Title Ad Valorem tax and $400,000 in additional taxes. Fund reserves will provide $351,909 for the balance.

The proposed budget calls for $25 million for instruction, $2.3 million for pupil services, $851,000 for general administration, $2.3 million for school administration, $2.4 million for maintenance and operation and $2.3 million for student transportation.

“A tax rate increase is not anticipated,” said school finance director Debbie Woerner.

“Expenditure Increases include 58% ($2.5 million) of budgeted expenditures due to the State Health Insurance rate employer portion for staff and $2,000 Teacher Salary scale increases required by the state. There will be a $500,000 increase in instructional staffing and support for student growth and reduced class sizes; a $235,000 increase in administration to support growing behavioral needs at the elementary school and to improve the district’s ability to address student wellness and instructional needs for all students; and $229,000 to provide additional staff and resources to support district operational departments.”

The school system had a fund balance of $11.5 million as of June 30, 2022.

“It is projected that the FY24 Budget deficit will be balanced with unbudgeted revenues earned in QBE mid-term adjustment and FY23 tax digest,” said Woerner.

The 2023 school budget was $34,534 and the proposed 2024 budget would see an 18% increase in support services, a 16% increase in pupil services, a 15% increase in media services and an 11% increase in instruction.

Pike schools spent $9,230 per student for the 2022-23 school year which is considerably less than the state average of $11,200 in per-pupil spending.

Pike County High School has a graduation rate of 96%, exceeding the state graduation rate average in 2022 by 12% and earning a top 25 spot for the Pike School System out of a total of 467 schools in the state.

Last year there were more than 500 faculty and staff and more than 3,500 students at the five local schools in the Pike County School System.

The proposed budgets for most surrounding school systems were all higher than Pike’s (at $38 million), including $78 million in Upson, $52 million in Meriwether and $109 million in Spalding. Lamar’s budget was the only one in the area less than Pike’s at around $30 million for 2023.

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