Brad James (Director of Finance, Agency of Education) provided the House Ways & Means Committee with an update on school budgets. The December letter from the Tax Commissioner estimated an 8.52% increase in spending over FY2023. James has heard from about 20% of schools about their budgets (as passed by school boards) as of right now, budgets are coming back closer to 9%.
The Joint Fiscal Office also reviewed the Education Fund Outlook (not including the latest numbers from the Agency of Education) and factoring scenarios for the Governors recommended budget and a universal school meals program. Property tax rates would actually decrease for FY2024 because of a combination $90M surplus funds from FY2023 and the growth in grand list values. However, because of this grand list growth the average property tax bill would still increase 0.54% without universal school meals and a 2.94% if the program was funded.
Representative Branagan asked about the cost per meal for the universal school meals, what we would be buying, and where we are sourcing that from.