At the board of education called meeting Thursday night, Sept. 1, members voted on a final estimated general fund budget of $47,243,620 for the 2011-2012 school year that will require a millage rate of 19.228.
The school board opted not to adopt rollback rate of 18.228 mills (a rollback rate results from the subtraction of the percentage of net tax digest growth from the past year’s millage rate). They added an extra 5.49 percent to the rollback rate in order to meet budget demands.
The county tax digest for 2011 comes to 850,534,740, 12.66 decrease from the 2010 digest of 973,873,136, according to school system budget documents.
This is an increase over last year’s millage rate of 15.611.
Last year, the school board passed a $49,200,000 million estimated budget after instituting numerous spending resolutions as school officials waited for a final county tax digest.
Under the proposed millage rate, Gordon residents living in a $100,000 home can expect to pay around $769 in property taxes. (figure based on a home with no tax exemptions), according to the Gordon County Tax Assessor’s Office.
Although the proposed millage rate will have to be approved by the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions of the increase.
All three hearings will be held at the Gordon County Board of Education office at 205 Warrior Path in Calhoun on Sept. 19, 8:30 a.m., Sept. 19, 6 p.m., and Sept. 26, 6 p.m.
Personnel cuts have played a big part in budget reductions, and the schools have cut as many positions as possible, according to Superintendent Bill McCown.
“As a district, we’ve always run below capacity (student to teacher ratio), but this year we are at a maximum,” he said.
Another big reduction will come from a reduced calendar work schedule the school system will implement this year. The reduced work-schedule will save the county $1.9 million in spending for the next school year, according to budget documents released by the school board.
The consolidated school calendar will call for 176 student days and 180 teacher days.
Two-thirds of the school system’s general fund budget is funded by the state, according to Gail Farriba, Gordon County schools finance director, and the additional one-third comes mostly from county property taxes.
State funding for Gordon schools was reduced this year by $3.9 million, and local funding for schools has also been reduced due a decrease in property values in the past few years. In the past four years alone, the school district has made $7.4 million in reductions, resulting in the loss of 84 positions, Farriba noted.
Gordon schools have had to adjust to approximately $22 million in state austerity reductions since 2003, based on FTE (full-time-equivalent positions) that have been cut, the documents stated.
McCown said education should take a more prominent role in decisions handed down from the state level.
“The state constitution says that the primary responsibility of the state is educating its citizens,” said McCown. “That should be the first thing they always take care of, but it’s not always the first thing.”