While the Bartow County School Board voted on Monday to tentatively leave its millage rate at 17.90 mills, the Cartersville Board of Education voted Monday night to raise its millage rate by one mill.
"We've talked about this for a long time," said Kelley Dial, board vice president. "We've worried about this for a long time, but we feel like at this point, we've been budgeting looking three years down the road and not one year down the road. Our goal is to have enough money in the bank so we don't have to borrow to make payroll."
If property assessments did not change, the increase from 17.32 to 18.32 mills would equate to $100 a year on a $100,000 house. However, Dial said that if assessments drop, as many have, the amount of additional taxes would be even lower.
Dial said while the school system is raising its millage rate, it isn't furloughing its teachers or cutting programs, such as fine arts.
"I think we as a group saw furloughs as a temporary fix to a long-term problem," she said.
The school system also is maintaining a 180-day school calendar. In comparison, the Bartow County School System is reducing its school year from 180 to 175 days.
"We're one of the few school systems with (180-day) calendars, and we're very proud of that," Dial said.
The board previously eliminated 22 parapro positions and brought in a staffing agency to provide other parapros and bus monitors to slash personnel expenses.
Superintendent Howard Hinesley said while the school system has a "reasonable" amount in its reserves, it would be depleted in the next two years based the current trends of reduced funding from state and local sources.
"By doing one mill, it would carry us through the next three years," Hinesley said. "We debated doing it or not, but it seemed irresponsible to borrow money and have to raise taxes significantly (down the road)."
The school system's $33 million budget is $332,000 lower than last year's. Hinesley told The Daily Tribune News that rather than increase the millage rate 2.12 mills to make up the deficit, the remainder will be taken out of the school system's fund balance.
Hinesley said the city council will have three public hearings on the millage increase before a final vote.
The board also recognized rising ninth-grader Adam Harper who was the Southeastern United States winner of an essay contest sponsored by the Istanbul Center in Atlanta. Harper's essay was focused on world hunger. For winning, he received a trip to Turkey with Hinesley and his teacher, Jery-lyn Flowers.