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Gainesville school board adopts 2015 budget
$62.1 million general fund includes technology, new positions
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A property swap between Gainesville City Schools and Gainesville Parks and Recreation is finally complete.

The swap gives the school system ownership of Ivey-Watson Field on Lee Waldrip Drive off Dawsonville Highway. In return, the city gets Gainesville Middle School’s multipurpose field across from the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center off Jesse Jewell Parkway.

“We are the only one that uses Ivey-Watson Field,” school board Chairwoman Maria Calkins said. “We do not have a baseball field. Parks and Rec does not have a rectangular field, and they have funds to fix up a rectangular field. We both get the usage that we need. We still use it as much as we need to, but they are going to have the funds to build a concession stand and bleachers and restrooms, and that will benefit our children.”

The change does not affect the middle school’s use of the field.

Carly Sharec

A 2015 budget for Gainesville City Schools is set.

School board members approved the $62.1 million general fund at Monday’s meeting, with the total budget coming to $77.1 million.

The budget has room for 20 new certified positions, as well as two new bus-driving positions and a speech and language pathologist.

“Technology is something I’m excited about,” said board Chairwoman Maria Calkins. “Building Fair Street (school) last year, we were able to step it up to the next level with technology over there. It has proven to be fabulous for the kids, and so now we get to do that with the rest of the schools and do a lot of technological advances.

“That’s the big, exciting (line item) we were able to get to this year.”

There is around $1.2 million allotted for technology, or 1.6 percent of the total budget.

The state budget, approved earlier this year, helps to restore around $1.4 million in austerity cuts from past years. That funding has allowed the city system to restore a full 190-day contract for teachers, as well as a 180-day schedule for students next school year.

The general fund is set at $62.1 million in expenditures, with revenues coming in at $58.5 million. The difference is expected to be made up from the system’s fund balance, estimated at around $8 million.

The budget is based on the 7.59 millage rate; the city school system won’t vote on a millage rate until later in the year. In the past, board members have voted on any rate changes in September.

“We’ll bring forward information from that in August,” said Chief Financial Officer Janet Allison.

Board member Sammy Smith inquired about the tax digest, and the number of appeals expected because of property reassessments this year.

“Even in August, we won’t have a true digest,” Allison said. “I have discussed with the city ... continuing to get information throughout the summer. We have normally gotten a digest from which we adopted the millage rate.

“We will communicate all summer to keep current on what’s going on.”

One mill equals $1 per $1,000 in assessed property value. Property is assessed at 100 percent in Gainesville.

Allison previously reported for every tenth of a mill drop, the system would lose around $303,000 in revenue.