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Gainesville City Schools approves 2011-2012 budget
Millage rate to be set in fall
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Gainesville taxpayers have to wait until at least September to find out whether their tax rates will go down 0.3 mills.

The Gainesville City Schools Board adopted its final fiscal year 2012 budget of $67 million at its meeting Monday, but the millage rate will not be set until fall when the tax digest comes in, Chief Financial Officer Janet Allison said.

The 0.3 mills come from the general obligation bond payments. The bonds were paid off in January.

“Our budget, neither tentative nor final, we did not budget anything for the debt price of the millage rate since we don’t have any general obligation bonds outstanding,” Allison said. “We do have the bonds that are (special local option sales tax). We do owe on that and we did budget for that, but that doesn’t come from the millage rate, it comes from sales tax collections.”

Allison said if the millage rate drops 0.3 mills, taxpayers will save about $30 on a $100,000 house as taxes are assessed at 100 percent in the city. One mill equals $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

Meanwhile, changes might be coming for the school board itself next year. School board member Sammy Smith proposed that all 2011-2012 board meetings be moved to 6 p.m., a motion met with cheering from system employees sitting in the audience.

The meeting time change will be brought up for a vote at the next board meeting.

The board also gave its blessing to the proposed random drug testing procedures at Gainesville High School, but not without serious consideration on the procedure’s merits.

The new policy would allow student athletes and drivers to be randomly screened for drugs in order to retain their school privileges.

Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said Wood’s Mill High School is considering a similar drug testing procedure, which might be brought before the board in July.

“Empirical research does not support random drug testing as a way to reduce drug use,” school board member Delores Diaz said. “I would prefer to see our energy and money spent on something that might be more effective.”

Diaz supports the Gainesville High administration’s efforts, but said the testing is not far-reaching enough to achieve the desired goals.

“I don’t want us to be just blowing smoke. I’d like to see us doing something with teeth,” she said. “We need something that would be directed to all students and not two select groups.”

School board member Maria Calkins expressed concern that doing something now was better than doing nothing.

“This is coming from the school council. It’s a start,” Calkins said. “We can bless it and say, ‘Thank you for starting towards this goal.’ And what we can do is go into our retreat for strategic planning, and put this as one of our priorities.”

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