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State gives, takes away Hall schools funding
District will see fraction of possible increase thanks to change in tax income 2 years ago
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The Hall County School District will get an infusion of state money for 2016-17 but will lose nearly as much because of its improved tax digest two years ago.

The school system expects to get about $622,000 more in state money for the 2016-17 school year than the current year ­— despite Gov. Nathan Deal proposing about $350 million new money for public schools in his budget.

The Hall County Board of Education got a short explanation Monday night.

The county schools would get nearly $5 million — $4,949,884 — more state money because of the governor’s budget, but the system is expected to lose nearly that much because of two parts of the state formula for determining how much money a system gets. Those two parts are “equalization” and “local fair share.”

Both factors are designed to spread state money to areas that have less local wealth, theoretically giving “poorer” school systems more state money and less to “richer” systems.

Superintendent Will Schofield told the board Hall County schools will lose the state funding because of the county’s tax digest, which went up slightly two years ago.

Local teachers are likely to get the state’s 3 percent pay increase — which is a major part of Deal’s budget request. Schofield noted that may come mostly from local tax dollars.

The Hall County budget for the current year is almost $219 million — which was an increase of nearly $11 million from 2014-15.

Despite the mixed blessing of state funding, Schofield told the board, “We’re in great shape. We’ll be fine” financially.

The school system is expected to approve its budget schedule for 2016-17 at its March board meeting.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The Hall County School District could sell bonds for its education special purpose local option sales tax building projects over the next five years, but it does not plan to sell the maximum amount — $45 million.

The Board of Education Monday night unanimously approved a resolution that would allow selling the $45 million for E-SPLOST projects.

However, Superintendent Will Schofield said the system has “no plans to see any bonds at this point.” He also noted that if the system sells bonds, it would have to repay those before the end of the five-year period.

The $45 million in bonds were part of the E-SPLOST approved by voters in November. The school system developed a list of about $160 million in facilities needs it projects for the next five years — the period covered by the referendum.

“You wouldn’t have to issue any of this, or you could issue all of them,” Schofield told the board.

The penny sales tax is projected to produce $25 million to $35 million per year. New classroom space; renovation of existing facilities; student technology; fine arts facilities at East Hall, Johnson and West Hall high schools; new school buses; library collections and large band instruments are the broad categories listed as needs for the money.

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