For now at least, the Columbia County Board of Education is heading for smooth budget-writing sessions for fiscal 2002. The system expects revenues of $110 million and expenditures of nearly $108 million - an overall revenue increase of $8.1 million.
State money makes up 66.6 percent of revenues in the new budget with the balance supplied by local money. The budget blueprint includes adding 32 new teachers to meet new requirements under Gov. Roy Barnes' education improvement act.
"We are better off this year than we have been in the past," school Superintendent Tommy Price told trustees. So good, in fact, that the board is considering increasing the local teacher supplement - what's paid to teachers in addition to what the state pays - by at least $1,000, bringing the total supplement to $2,900.
The average spent on each Columbia County pupil during the school year is $4,847 - or $777 less than the state average. Given the healthy state of the school district's budget and the need for more and better teachers, trustees would be wise - if they want their school system to maintain its status as one of the best in Georgia - to hike the supplement as much as possible.