$12 million school budget hike may mean tax increase looms

Tue, 05/01/2007 - 4:06pm
By: John Munford

The Fayette County Board of Education was given a detailed preview of the proposed $191 million general fund budget for the 2007-2008 school year at its regular meeting Monday night. And a school tax increase might be ahead.

The proposed budget is a $12 million increase over the current year’s budget, and Comptroller Lee Davis noted the system is experiencing rising costs for insurance in all categories and communications costs through AT&T (formerly BellSouth) are also increasing. Also, the system is facing having to fund an increase of more than $500,000 in technology largely to replace old computers.

Schools and departments were asked to cut their individual budgets by 5 percent this year to accommodate the continued “austerity” cuts in state funding, Davis said. This year the state funding cuts will be close to $2.4 million, he said, but so far Fayette hasn’t had to cut any of its art, music and physical education offerings because of the cuts, unlike other school systems, Davis said.

Davis is suggesting that the board increase the millage rate slightly for this coming year to avoid having a shortfall at the end of the year. He noted that growth in the property tax digest hasn’t been as strong this year with the downturn in home sales.

Davis suggested there was a way to slightly increase the main millage rate yet roll back the bond millage rate to offset the property tax increase for taxpayers.

The board likely won’t set the millage rate until the end of July, and its possible there could be some adjustments to the proposed budget between now and then. The budget will be presented again for discussion at the board’s May 21 meeting.

The budget presented to the board Monday night does not include money for a salary survey, and board member Janet Smola said that concerned her because she worries about losing teachers to other school systems. There was no immediate estimate available for how much that might cost. The last one was done about seven years ago, officials said.

It was also announced that Davis will be leaving the school system in a few weeks to take a position at Henry County Public Schools, although he will still help Fayette out at times. Davis said he appreciated the support of the board and top school officials during his tenure.

In other business, the board learned about tentative plans to cluster students in the English as a Second Language (ESOL) program at various schools throughout the county. That way teachers wouldn’t lose instructional time by traveling from school to school; this would allow them to help students in other courses and also help train faculty, said Terri Gaspierik, director of secondary education and professional learning.

The logistics will be worked out so that students don’t spend an extra half-hour or more on the bus when they are sent to their “cluster” school near their normally zoned school, Gaspierik noted.

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Submitted by johenry on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 8:35pm.

The newspaper should have just conserved space combined the PTC annexation and increase in school taxes articles.

They're going to throw in another 1,150 students! Guess who ends up paying for all the services for the new neighbors????

All of the Kedron kids are going to get booted out of Peachtree City schools. This stinks.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 05/02/2007 - 7:02am.

Most people who have jobs downtown, will likely choose to live in Cherokee County. The commute time is the same, and the schools in Cherokee came out ahead of Fayette in test scores. Anyone who cares about their kids would logically move there.

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Wed, 05/02/2007 - 7:12am.

Why move somewhere else when you can stay in a place that makes you so miserable all you do is gripe and whine? It would be proactive to move elsewhere and we can't have that. That is SO not PTC!

Cherokee County does have an excellent school system. I don't think the commute to downtown is the same as from PTC-->Atlanta, however. The trip back from downtown is even more brutal.

Anything around Atlanta north to almost the state line and south to about Macon has rough rush-hour commutes. It's a trade-off to low-density one-use development: sprawl and clogged highways. That is why some very adventurous folks are moving back into downtown and midtown and paying the big bucks to live in multi-use developments.
The idea of living near your workplace is still foreign to a lot of people in Georgia but once the traffic and commute-times get even worse, it will start changing some minds.


Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 05/02/2007 - 7:20am.

Just pointing out that those schools came out ahead of ours, and so did the schools in the city of Decatur. Some people are moving to be closer to where they work. Some people move to be in a good school system. Yes we are 3rd in the state which is still very good.

Submitted by 30YearResident on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 8:22pm.

..... To educate kids from Clayton and Fulton County !!!

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 8:55pm.

A word of warning, you should edit the post where you use the "a" word or run the risk of banning.

I yam what I yam...Popeye

Submitted by JoAnn on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 8:41pm.

Kick thier hiney out of Fayette. I live in Fayette County. I pay taxes in Fayette County. I have children in Fayette County schools. If you don't live in Fayette County then (I don't care if you father is the Governor) you CAN NOT go to Fayette County Schoolds.

Submitted by JoAnn on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 8:02pm.

Wonder if this has anything to do with a $5000.00 per day consultant to tell Fayette County School System on how to draw the lines for next school year. Can you say "Let's waste some more money"? Can you believe that people that was voted into office - cannot do their job. That as taxpayers we have to pay someone to figure it out.

Xaymaca's picture
Submitted by Xaymaca on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 4:31pm.

I'm wondering how often computers are swapped out and if Fayette is getting the advantage of educational discounts for hardware and software. Beyond that, I don't mind a little more tax if it means that our school district can continue to excel and improve.

cowtipn's picture
Submitted by cowtipn on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 4:15pm.

Like the cost of paintbrushes, conducting batons, and basketballs will offset the $2.4 million.

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