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Glynn County Schools’ budget plans for fiscal year 2020 include a new position to support School Resource Officers and improve school safety.

Plans for Glynn County Schools’ budget for fiscal year 2020 include raises for teachers and other staff, as well as the addition of staff positions that will enhance student counseling and school safety and add new extracurricular opportunities for students.

The Glynn County Board of Education met Wednesday to hold one of its first in-depth discussions of the upcoming year’s school system budget. The school board will vote in July to approve the budget and will hold two public hearings beforehand.

Total expenditures for fiscal year 2020 are estimated to be $139,469,700, which is about a 5 percent increase from fiscal year 2019’s budget.

Estimated total revenue for fiscal year 2020 is $136,138,600.

Additional funding from the state budget will come in this year to cover salary raises that Gov. Brian Kemp promised to provide to the state’s teachers and other staff.

The state budget included funds to help cover a $3,000 increase in the state salary scale for certified employees. All other staff will receive a 2 percent pay increase.

Glynn County Schools also plans to reinstate a retirement matching plan for employees who are not in the Teacher Retirement System plan. The plan will benefit custodians, food service employees, bus drivers and other school staff. This plan was previously offered by the school system but cut years ago due to the recession.

“They’ll have the opportunity to decide what they want to contribute, and then we match it,” said Andrea Preston, assistant superintendent of finances for Glynn County Schools. “And it’s comparable to the TRS.”

The budget includes about 20 new positions within the school system, most of which are school-based jobs.

A work-based learning teacher will be added at the Golden Isles College and Career Academy to support the growing work-based learning program.

Teacher positions will be added in seven elementary schools specifically to expand the school system’s gifted education program.

A second assistant principal will be added at Needwood Middle School.

Two counseling positions will also be added at the high schools to support dual enrollment and mental health services for students, both of which are growing needs locally and statewide.

To better address school safety, the budget includes the addition of a clerical position for the School Resource Officer dispatch service.

“This will allow us to move one of the SROs who is a certified law enforcement officer out of that area and back into the field, which will enhance safety overall for our schools,” said Jim Pulos, assistant superintendent for operations and administrative services for Glynn County Schools.

The budget also includes the addition of three new sports — cross country, swimming and competitive cheerleading.

School board member Mike Hulsey voiced his concern that the school budget increases annually, while student enrollment numbers remain fairly steady. But, he said, most of the budget increases are state-mandated and out of the local school board’s control.

Glynn County Schools has a fairly high per-pupil cost. The three-year per-pupil expenditure average for the school system is $9,427, according to a recent financial efficiency report completed by the state education department.

One reason, though, for the high cost is that the school system strives to keep small class sizes, which requires more staffing. About 90 percent of the budget consists of salary costs.

Virgil Cole, superintendent of Glynn County Schools, said the school system hopes to begin working to fill the new positions soon.

“We’re very fortunate with the increase from the governor’s office, or from the state budget, but I think these are some good steps to continue to move us forward,” he said.

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