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Gainesville schools: Furloughs, no tax hike in 2012
Millage rate would be less than current one
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Gainesville City Schools will likely roll up the millage rate and impose furlough days to balance the fiscal year 2012 budget.

“This would not be a tax increase,” Janet Allison, finance director for the school system, said at the school board meeting Monday. “In total, our millage rate would still be less than it is right now.”

The board will not set its millage rate until the final tax digest in August. However, at Monday’s meeting, Allison asked the board to agree to a preliminary rate to start fostering budget discussions.

“We’re not adopting a millage rate,” she said. “This is solely to build a budget.”

The school system’s current millage rate is 7.69, which includes 7.39 for operations and 0.3 for debt service. Since the school system paid off its debt in January, Allison proposed to use the 0.3 to pay for operations.

With a proposed rollup rate of 0.198 added to the 7.39, the total millage rate would be 7.588.

“This is still less total millage than we had last year,” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.

Allison is still watching tax digest numbers, which remain unstable. The school system has already seen a drop of $2.2 million in property taxes and $6 million in state cuts.

This likely means a reduced work schedule for the entire system.

“It looks like people are furloughing anywhere between seven and 10 days,” Dyer said. “We’re looking anywhere between five and eight days.”

Dyer said the board will likely start on the high side of furlough days and then restore some. She said the number of furlough days will be set during a June board meeting.

Allison projected a $6 million fund balance for fiscal year 2011, which ends June 30. However, the board expressed concern about using all of it to balance the budget in case a surplus does not exist for fiscal year 2013.

“It’s just very scary,” Dyer said. “We’re going to be in the same boat next year.”

In other business, the board unanimously decided to table a decision on a proposed drug testing procedure at Gainesville High

School. They heard a presentation from Stanley Hawkins of the Gainesville-based law firm Harben, Hartley & Hawkins about the procedure and its effects on student privacy.

Several residents and coaches expressed support for the procedure, but no students were present to voice an opinion.

The board will revisit the proposed procedure at its June 3 meeting.