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Gainesville school board may set millage rate next week
Final adoption could be approved Sept. 20
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The Gainesville City Schools Board of Education might begin the process of setting its millage rate as early as next week.

"There needs to be at least two weeks between tentative and final adoption," Janet Allison, chief financial officer for Gainesville City Schools, told board members at their meeting Monday. "There also has to be a posting in the paper of the five-year history and that has to be put two weeks before the final adoption."

Allison proposed a called board meeting on Aug. 31 for initial discussion and a final adoption date of Sept. 20.

In June, the school board approved its fiscal year 2011 budget, which included a proposed millage rate 0.3 mills lower than that in 2010. The 0.3 mill reduction would come from general obligation bond payments, which were paid off in January.

If the millage rate were to drop 0.3 mills, taxpayers would 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.

The board also approved a motion to approach the Georgia Department of Education with a revised facilities plan. The board completed a five-year facility plan in 2010, but recent additions have members looking at a new one this year.

The new facility plan, which takes effect in 2012, will allow the school board to apply for state funding for these properties and others included in the 2010 plan.

The plan reviews the school system's existing properties and how they're used, as well as demonstrates where the system has the highest need.

"We need to take into account the acquisition of the two pieces of property (Bobby Gruhn Field and 17 acres on Mundy Mill Road) as well as getting capital outlay for Wood's Mill Academy. They need to go on our five-year plan," said David Shumake, assistant superintendent for Gainesville City Schools. "We will go through a review just like we did in the last plan. We'll have people come and inspect our plan to make sure it actually meets the needs of our community."

The Gainesville board was ready to move ahead with the new plan.

"When we adopted the current plan under which we're operating, you all explained to us that it was a breathing kind of document subject to change, and in fact change was good in that five-year window because opportunities arise," board member Sammy Smith said.

Shumake said the school district was looking at receiving 100 percent of the capital outlay state funds to be used for renovations at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy and the Fair Street school project.

The board approved the application for these funds and Shumake said money should come in December.

Bonds the school board prepared to purchase earlier this summer are covering other portions of the Fair Street rebuilding project.

Superintendent Merrianne Dyer touched on how the first week of class went in the system. Only slight adjustments to classroom size had to be made.

"Within Fair Street we had to change a first-grade (teacher) to a kindergarten because of high numbers of kindergartners, but there were no school-to-school transfers," Dyer said.

All families, even those that moved to city limits over the summer, were able to participate in Gainesville City Schools' choice program for its five elementary schools. Dyer said the only issue was one family waiting to see if they could get all of their children at the same school.

"We had a wonderful week which speaks to the planning and hard work of our staff, our teachers and our leaders," she said. "And the traffic is getting better every day."