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What Hall Schools plans for next budget, millage rate

Hall County Schools revealed its budget details for fiscal year 2021-2022 on Monday and will hold public hearings on the budget at 5 p.m. on June 14 and June 28. It plans a small rollback in the millage rate.

Next year’s proposed budget is about $21 million more than last year, but additional funds are from CARES II and CARES III federal funding granted to help mitigate learning loss and aid in mental health services for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent Will Schofield said in a YouTube video regarding the budget that he is conscious of CARES funding being temporary.

“We are going to be very careful not to make the mistake of putting mechanisms or salary increases in place that we cannot sustain with this temporary money,” Schofield said. “We are going to use it as it was intended and that is to try to mitigate the learning loss that our students have certainly experienced due to the pandemic and also to support the overwhelming trauma and mental health issues that we also are seeing amongst our student body.”

CARES funding is staggered over time, so the district will receive at least $27 million in CARES III money next year as well. The district is also using these funds to buy needed equipment that will last several years including Chromebooks and band equipment, Schofield said.

The district will put in place temporary personnel to help students suffering from trauma and other mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic, and the district will have additional academic support in place. 

Schofield said he and the board are still discussing fair and sustainable raises for staff at all levels. Any raises will be announced at the Hall County Board of Education’s June 21 meeting.

The budget includes nearly $5 million more than last year for teacher salaries because of temporary support staff funded by CARES. The budget also includes $5 million more for custodial services in the 2021-2022 school year, because the district was able to pay for custodial services through CARES funding last fiscal year. 

Revenues are up overall for the school district allowing for a net decrease in the millage rate by 0.7 mills. 

The general fund millage rate will decrease by about 1.2 mills, and the district will increase the bonded indebtedness millage by 0.5 mills. Schofield had previously said that this bonded indebtedness millage increase in order to pay for their 10 year facility plan could be as high as one mill. 

“In spite of all that we’ve been through, I’m thankful to be where we are,” Schofield said. “It should be a very healthy budget year.”

The first information session for the budget will be during the Board of Education’s scheduled work session at 5 p.m. on June 14 at 711 Green St.

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