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Gainesville Schools approve millage rate
Board also talks about graduation rates, E-SPLOST
Wanda Creel
Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Wanda Creel

Gainesville City Schools formally approved the lowering of its millage rate at a work session Tuesday.

The millage rate of 6.89 was approved for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, a decrease from the previous millage rate as 7.48.

The board tentatively approved the tax rate on Aug. 17 but required advertisement for at least 14 days since the first vote.

During the strategic improvement plan discussion, Superintendent Wanda Creel said one of the main focuses is achieving a minimum 90 percent on-time graduation rate.

“This is not something that’s just a high school initiative or a high school concern,” Creel said. “We have to build this all the way up, making sure that each student is on track at the end of each grade level.”

Creel said the reason for a four-year plan versus one for five years would show the progress from the entering freshman class to its graduation. The goal is for at least 95 percent of the incoming freshmen to be on track to graduate and see at least 90 percent of them graduate in 2019, Creel said.

Gainesville Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner presented the growth trend in the monthly special purpose local option sales tax receipts, which climbed above $500,000 for Gainesville City Schools in the month of August. E-SPLOST will be on the ballot Nov. 3.

In the event of the E-SPLOST referendum being approved, the board took up the issue of a citizens review panel similar to that of Hall County.

While Creel said the board would likely not take issue with having one, the superintendent said she felt that the information is available and open to the public.

“We certainly want to make sure that we are transparent and that we are providing the information that is needed and wanted by our community, but we do feel like that information is very transparent,” she said.

Fellow members of the board sided with Creel, as board Vice Chair Brett Mercer called it “adding government to government.”