2013-09-19 / Front Page

BOE sets operations budget at rollback rate and increases bond rate by .75 mills

The millage rate for FY 2014 was discussed at the regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Education held Tuesday, September 10.

The good news is that the system will not have to raise the millage rate by .5 mills above the rollback rate, as was initially proposed, because the Ending Fund Balance is higher than projected.

Instead, the board agreed to increase the millage rate for maintenance and operations from 16.829 mills for FY 2013 to the rollback rate of 17.135 mills for FY 2014.

According to Kaye Bufford, finance director, “Because we are not adopting a millage rate higher than the rollback rate and will be collecting roughly the same amount of revenues as last year, we won’t be required to hold any hearings.”

The rollback rate increased due to a drop in the tax digest.

The director went on to say, “We are projecting an Ending Fund Balance of $1,468,000 for FY 2014 and $915,000 for FY 2015. This is why I feel like we don’t need to increase property taxes on maintenance and operations.

“Projections show that we should be able to maintain the millage rate for FY 2014 and FY 2015 at the current rate and keep an acceptable Fund Balance if local, state, and federal revenues and our expenditures remain the same.”

The total maintenance and operations budget for FY 2014 is $10,589,096, a $179,289 increase over last year.

The new budget includes three work reduction days as compared to six during FY 2013 and the purchase of one school bus.

“We found out from the state that we are not getting any bus bond revenues this year, but we still plan to purchase one bus, without state funding,” said Bufford.

The system is expected to receive bus bond revenues in FY 2015.

In his comments, Dr. Robert Williams, board chairman, said, “Probably in five years, buses will start breaking down right and left, because we’re only getting one per year. Hopefully, the state will buy us a bus next year, and we can get one on our own.”

Regarding the Debt Service Fund, the board decided to raise the millage rate .75 mills over the rollback rate for a total of 3.755 mills. The tax increase will make up for the decline in SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) revenues, which are needed to pay for the new high school.

“There is so much in the budget we couldn’t predict,” stated Bufford. “However, if we see enough in SPLOST, TAVT (Title Ad Valorem Tax), and ad valorem collections, we can go back down on the bond millage rate next year.”

At a called meeting held Thursday, September 12, the board voted to approve a maintenance and operations millage rate of 17.135 mills and a bond millage rate of 3.755 mills for FY 2014.

In other business, the board: l Was informed by Dr. Brian Campbell, superintendent of schools, that Melissa Fincher, associate superintendent of the Georgia Department of Education, will visit local schools on Tuesday, October 8, to discuss upcoming changes to End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) and Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). l Reviewed financial reports for the SPLOST Summary Fund through August 31, 2013; the Construction Fund through August 31, 2013; the General Fund for the period from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013; and the General Fund for the period from July 1, 2013, through August 31, 2013.

Commenting on the FY 2013 General Fund Budget, Finance Director Bufford said, “We collected approximately $500,000 more than was budgeted for the year – most of this was in Impact Aid (funds paid by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in lieu of property taxes).

“As for expenditures, we only spent 97 percent of what was projected, so that gave us some savings.” l Heard a presentation on TAVT collections since March 2013 and the tax’s impact on SPLOST.

“With the addition of TAVT revenues to the SPLOST Fund, every month but June has come close to what we took in last year, so the SPLOST Fund is not as bad as it looks,” stated Bufford. “TAVT is helping to even things out.”

She went on to say, “We will need $573,000 in tax or SPLOST revenues for the bond payment on the new school in April – that’s what were concerned about.” l Was informed by Dr. Campbell that the system’s electricity savings totaled over $100,000 for the past two years.

“This is phenomenal,” said the superintendent. “I applaud all three schools – it’s amazing what you can do when you focus.”

He added that each school was given 20 percent of what it saved to use for instructional purposes. l Discussed the installation of a restroom in the principal’s office at LCMS. The total cost for the project is about $16,500, and it would take a month to complete.

In his remarks, Superintendent Campbell indicated that his main concern is the funding. “The Construction Fund is zeroed out, and the $131,000 in this year’s budget is already committed to other projects.

“However, we can look at it for FY 2015. I don’t like doing these projects until we can get rid of work reduction days.”

The board then agreed to table a decision on the matter and revisit it in January. l Was informed by Dr. Campbell that the renovation of the student bathrooms at LCES will be done next summer. l Voted to include Woodmen of the World in the board of education’s 403(b) plan, after meeting the requirements of adding a payroll deduction slot. l Voted to allow the Woodmen of the World, ING, and Horace Mann Insurance companies to provide Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, and annuity deductions to system employees. l Heard a review of the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) given by Shane Purdy, assistant superintendent for instruction.

“This system for evaluating teachers is so much better than our previous system – it covers the whole spectrum of teaching,” he said.

The assessment system also places far greater emphasis on student performance. In fact, student achievement accounts for 50 percent of the evaluation.

According to Purdy, the system evaluates teachers using the following domains: planning, instructional delivery, assessment of and for learning, learning environment, and professionalism and communication.

The process calls for a teacher self-assessment, a pre-evaluation conference, four walk-throughs, two formal observations, a mid-year evaluation conference, and a summative evaluation conference at the end of the year.

In his comments on student growth, Superintendent Campbell said, “With TKES, we’re comparing apples to apples for the first time. We’ve never done this before. It’s a different world, and our teachers are under a lot of pressure.”

The TKES evaluation system stems from the $400 million “Race to the Top” grant, a program introduced by the Obama Administration to jump start school reform nationwide. l Was informed by Dr. Campbell that after January 31, 2014, State Farm Insurance is no long insuring school buses, which means the system will have to seek bids from other companies. l Was informed by the superintendent that accounting guidelines for the various booster clubs in the system are being prepared.

“We need to get all of the booster clubs on the same page as far as accountability is concerned,” he said. “We plan to meet with the presidents and treasurers of all of the parent organizations.” l Voted to approve fundraisers for the year at LCES, LCMS, and LCHS. l Heard the second reading of revisions to the Recruitment Policy and the Concussion Management Policy. The policies were approved as read. l Head the first readings of the following revised policies: Professional Personnel Extra Duty, Foreign Exchange Students, and Extra Fees.

According to Dr. Campbell, “The revisions to the personnel extra duty policy essentially itemizes what principals can expect from teachers in terms of extra duties. It also calls for lay coaches to be approved by the board.”

As for the student fees policy, the superintendent said, “We’re still having trouble with students paying their lunch bills, primarily. The revisions to the policy state that if a student owes over $20, he cannot participate in any extracurricular activities.

“This is uncomfortable, and I hate to do it, but we can’t keep running our cafeterias in the red. Today, the cafeterias are $5,000 in debt, but the figure is significantly better than it was in the past, with the help of our principals and assistant principals.”

He indicated that the schools will work with parents to set up payment plans. l Voted to approve a revised classsize waiver for FY 2014. With the waiver in place, the local school system will have some flexibility as to class size. l Heard Superintendent Campbell recognize the Lincoln County Family Y Program Center and Goldman and Wengrow as the businesses of the month. l Heard the superintendent discuss the new health care act, which will require the school system to offer benefits to any employee who works 30-plus hours.

“It will be a big cost to us, but we will have to offer them.” l Voted to enter executive session to deliberate upon the employment of personnel. Upon returning to regular session, the board: l Voted to approve Dwayne Connors to serve as the construction teacher at LCHS for the 2013-2014 school year, effective September 11, 2013. l Voted to accept the resignation of Daniel Lehman, LCHS construction teacher, effective September 6, 2013. l Voted to approve the following to serve as substitute teachers: Whitley Arrowood, Lindsey Barnett, Angoneckia Booker, Trudell Brown.

T.J. Carani, Lawanda Chiles, Dina Cogar, Melanie Delancy, Michael Fogarty, Shaun Glass, Theresa Herring, Zara Hudson, Donna Hutton, Knoesia Jones.

Crystal Juhasz, Sheila Landrum, Milly Price, Catherine Prosser, Shakeifa Searles, Stephanie Searles, Laverne Smith, Shelonda Stidom, Shanta Towns, and Krystal Young.

The next regular meeting of the board will be held Tuesday, October 8, at 7 p.m. at the board of education office on Metasville Road.

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