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Short-term loan might help Hall County schools
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Although in sound financial shape, the Hall County school board is considering approving a short-term loan for the district until it collects property tax revenue.

The board may approve a roughly $7 million tax anticipation note this month to fund salaries and district operations for primarily the month of December. Lee Lovett, an accountant for Hall County schools, said the school system likely will not have to adopt the note school boards routinely use to finance the lull between the mailing of tax bills in September and the collection of revenues.

"If we get much at all, we'll be fine," Lovett said. "If we don't get any, we'll have to execute the tax anticipation note. We don't know how people are going to respond to paying taxes right now."

School boards are required to repay the loan by Dec. 31 once taxes are collected.

Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools, said he hopes the school board will approve the tax anticipation note as a precaution.

He said with state funding cuts pending and other revenue sources waning, he and the school board are keeping their fiscal options open. Schofield said if expected shortfalls come to fruition, they will quickly eat away the system's current $8.5 million surplus. While Schofield said the system has undergone a budget crunch during this fiscal year, which started July 1, fiscal year 2010 could perhaps be more challenging.

"We're not going to have that nice chunk of revenue going into fiscal year 2010 like we have had in the past," he said.

"I'm expecting next year will be an atypical year like we've never seen before. We're hoping for the best and anticipating the worst," he said. "... We're going to plan for all contingencies, including even a reduced budget."

Lovett said with the building boom coming to a near halt, property values in the county are apt to remain stable at best in the upcoming year.

Also at the Wednesday work session, the school board approved an Oct. 16 public hearing for parents in the Sardis Elementary School community regarding the school adopting a charter school model. Jan Hughes, principal of Sardis Elementary, said Hall County educators have been planning for the elementary school to adopt a schoolwide enrichment model charter, which could be implemented in August 2009.

Hughes said the charter would allow the school to be more innovative in its instructional approach by allowing students to initiate in-depth studies based on their personal interests.

Aaron Turpin, director of technology for Hall County schools, announced Wednesday the school system will launch a new communications system to alert parents of important or emergency school news by home telephone, cell phone and e-mail.

Turpin said parents should call their kids' schools to update their contact information as the school system will give the communications network a pilot test on Nov. 3. He said the network will be able to initiate 26,000 phone calls and e-mails within 20 minutes.


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