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Board members extended Superintendent Will Schofield’s contract for another three years, through June 2017.
The decision came after an executive session during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
Chairman Nath Morris said terms of the extension, including salary details, would be determined prior to the next board meeting.
“He made it clear that his family wants to stay here in Hall County,” Morris said. “And he ... wants to continue to work for the school system.”
Without a lot of vocal dissent, Hall County Board of Education members approved a 2015 budget and a tax rate of 18.9 mills.
Board members voted on the $222.4 million general fund budget at their Monday evening meeting, following the third public hearing on the matter. The total budget is set at $297.1 million; beyond the general fund, the total budget includes programs funded usually via state or federal monies.
The 18.9 millage rate is a rollback from 19.25 in 2014, but it still amounts to a 4.22 percent property tax increase due to growth in the tax digest.
One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in property value, which is assessed at 40 percent in the county.
At the 18.9 rate, Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett said he anticipates receiving $79.2 million, only a slight increase from the $77 million at the previous 19.25 millage rate.
There was some dissent in the second public hearing Monday morning.
Alicia Morris said she did not have children in the system, and is eligible for a tax exemption this year, but wanted to represent taxpayers who are not financially able to afford any tax increase. She’s opposed to any sort of increase, and said class size and teacher pay should not be issues.
“I know a lot of teachers,” Morris said. “I go to church with a lot of teachers, and they are just so thrilled to have a job. There are a lot of them that are graduating from college that don’t have a job, can’t get a job. They’re having to move out of the state because there’s no jobs, so I don’t see that as an issue.”
She added she remembered classrooms having 28 to 30 students when she went through school.
“I know that this year groceries are higher, gas is higher, everything is astronomically higher,” she said. “How much more? How much more can we give? And my taxes aren’t even going to be raised this year.”
Board member Brian Sloan pointed out the millage rate is being lowered, saying the school district has no say over property valuation.
“We didn’t raise the lake values,” he said. “We don’t raise values. I’m just saying, we only control part of that. We control the millage rate, which we’re lowering.”
Residents John Johnson and Frank Lock also spoke at the second public hearing, though they were both mostly supportive of the budget and millage rate change.
Votes on both the budget and millage rate were unanimous, with member Bill Thompson absent.
“I hope we are in a position, whether it be state funding or whether it be any kind of a more equitable way to fund education, that we can continue to reduce the millage rate,” Chairman Nath Morris said after the vote. “I hope we can do that year after year. I think it should be all of our goals, but it’s also our goal to give our kids the best educational opportunity that we can.”