Bibb Schools to dip into its reserve funds for tentatively approved 2024 budget


Jason Vorhees | The Telegraph

Bibb County Schools Superintendent Dan Sims delivers a presentation to the community in June 2022.

Bibb Schools will have to dip into its reserves next fiscal year to cover planned expenses that eclipse anticipated revenues.

The Board of Education approved the tentative fiscal year 2024 budget in a 7-0 vote during a called meeting Tuesday evening. Board member Daryl Morton was absent.

Superintendent Dan Sims’s recommended budget includes $410.7 million in expenses, an increase of nearly 18% from this fiscal year and an amount greater than the $391.8 million in expected revenue. The school district will have to pay for the difference with its fund balance reserve, which is to be reduced from $122.6 million to $103.7 million.

“It’s not what we want to do, but we’re in that position now,” Chief Financial Officer Sharon Roberts said of the district’s plan to dip into its reserves.

Last year, the board approved eliminating nine assistant principal positions as a cost saving measure for the fiscal year 2023 budget. Five of those positions were added back in the fiscal year 2024 budget.

“My philosophy is, in the high school space, there’s so many moving parts, you at least need two (assistant principals) if you have a population of 600 or more,” Sims said, adding that students in the district’s most needy schools need the extra support and “this is one step towards making sure that happens.”

The tentatively approved budget also includes:

  • 43 additional teaching positions
  • A projected enrollment increase of 238 students
  • 2 additional counselors
  • 2 additional clerks
  • New positions: director of projects and partnerships and engagement, assistant superintendent of operations, director of employee relations
  • Salary increases for: certified staff ($2,000), classified staff (2% raise), custodians ($1,000) and bus drivers (5.1% raise.)
  • Increased cost for State Health Insurance for certified staff (from $11,340 to $18,960) and classified staff (from $11,340 to $12,840) per participating employee per year.
  • Added 9 positions paid for with CARES Act money back to the general fund

In other business Tuesday, the board voted to approve three assistant principals. Timothy Statham, current dean of students at Miller Middle School, will be assistant principal at Ballard Hudson Middle School; Greta Renfrus, dean of students at Appling Middle School, is being promoted to assistant principal at Appling; Tameka Taylor, assistant principal for Fort Valley Middle School in Peach County, will be assistant principal at Howard Middle School.

The board also voted to approve a new position, but the title and description of that job had not been made public as of late afternoon Wednesday.

Public hearings on the tentative budget are set for June 6 at 5 p.m. in the fourth-floor board room at 484 Mulberry Street  and June 13 at 5 p.m. in the Professional Learning Center at 2003 Riverside Drive. The final vote to adopt it is slated for June 15 during the regular monthly school board meeting at the Professional Learning Center.

The next step for the board will be to approve a millage rate. The tax digest had not yet been received from the county as of Tuesday.

The school board has for the past five years voted to roll back the millage rate. Roberts said the adoption of a rolled back millage rate last year resulted in the district forgoing millions in local property tax revenue. Roberts has recommended the board maintain its millage rate next fiscal year instead of rolling it back.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the new location of the June 6 budget hearing.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, call 478-301-5777 or email [email protected].