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Gainesville schools to hold meetings about financial issues

POSTED: January 13, 2009 12:50 a.m.

The Gainesville school system will hold two "State of the System" presentations Wednesday to update the community on financial and public policy issues affecting the system.

The presentations will be the first "State of the System" public meetings for the school system and will include question and answer sessions following the 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. meetings. Gainesville schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer, the Gainesville school board and Doug Eza, a finance and human resources consultant for the Georgia School Superintendents Association, will hold the presentation.

"Our main goal is to inform the public of where we are along the way with our financial deficit, but also to keep the public more informed about the impact education policy and funding have on local taxpayers," Dyer said.

Dyer said literature regarding the school system’s deficit reduction plan will be distributed at the meeting. The school system has an estimated $5.8 million deficit, and will have a final deficit figure with which to work once the state concludes its audit of the Gainesville school system in April.

The school board plans to pay off $1.8 million of the estimated deficit this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The board plans to make a $2 million payment toward the deficit next fiscal year and a final $1.8 million payment the following fiscal year. The deficit had been estimated at $5.6 million when the payment plan was adopted.

"We’re on target," Dyer said of the deficit reduction plan. "We’re thinking we’re going to be able to hit it."

Dyer said the primary goal of the meeting is to inform the public about the state’s outdated education funding formula concocted in 1985. She said due to inflation and the proliferation of state mandates, such as class sizes and teacher certifications, local school systems and taxpayers are shouldering more of educational systems’ financial burdens. She said the state’s funding formula has not conformed enough to meet the needs of modern school systems.

Dyer said Eza will speak to the local taxpayer’s concerns about funding education, and will provide an overview of Gainesville schools funding, how it has changed over time and how taxpayers are affected.

"We are hoping people will leave with a better big picture of education funding in Georgia and how all communities will have to advocate for certain things in education as far as revising the funding formula," Dyer said.



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