The Bartow County Board of Education voted 4 to 1 to approve a tentative millage rate of 17.90 mills at a called meeting Monday morning. The rate has remained unchanged since 2008.
Board member John Howard cast the dissenting vote, citing the same reasons he did last year when he voted against maintaining the same millage rate, such as cutting programs and making employees take furlough days.
"We had to furlough seven days this year for our teachers," he said. "We cut the schedule from 180 days to 175, so we've asked them to work longer hours. And, I realize that the community puts in our money just like the state does; however, I think that we're overburdending our teachers, and that's who we ultimately need the most to educate our kids."
Howard said that at some point, there won't be anything left to cut.
"I'm a firm believer of not waiting until the last minute and felt that we maybe should have asked for a little bit," he said.
The board also approved a tentative budget that includes $99.9 million in revenue and $106.67 million in expenditures, creating a deficit of around $6.76 million. Despite the deficit, the school system expects to keep $11.2 million in its fund balance.
Superintendent John Harper said that he feels good about the budget overall.
"(I was) real surprised about how much we had in savings," he said. "We've done a lot of things to try to conserve. It turned out really well for us."
Despite decreases in funding from the state of Georgia, Chief Financial Officer Todd Hooper said fiscal year 2012 likely will end with only a $5 million deficit rather than the $9 million deficit that had been expected.
The Board of Education will have a final vote on the budget and millage rate for fiscal year 2013 at a called meeting on Monday, July 30, at 6 p.m.
For more on the county school board, see our special section: Bartow County Schools: Budget, Board and More.