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School board tentatively approves FY25 budget, sets mileage rate public hearing

At its Thursday, May 9 meeting, the Clarke County Board of Education gave tentative approval to a fiscal year 2025 General Fund budget of $240,633,512 based on maintaining the current school district millage rate of 18.8 mills for a third consecutive year.

The proposed budget represents a roughly $26.5 million increase over the current fiscal year and includes additional investments highlighting the district’s three arching priorities in its 2024-2029 Strategic Plan – Thriving Students, Optimized Talent, and Connected Culture. Further, it provides funding for new state mandates and district initiatives, including:

● state-required $2,500 salary increases for all certified employees and a $1,000 salary supplement for custodians. The budget also includes a $1,750 salary increase for all non-custodial classified staff proposed by the district.These pay increases are in addition to the annual step increases that will be given to all eligible employees.

● $45,000 in additional funding for school security improvements as part of the state budget approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

● increases in the amount of employee state health insurance costs covered by the district (from $1,580 to $1,760 per member per month for certified employees and from $1,195 to $1,580 per member per month for classified employees) as well as an increase in the amount the district contributes to each eligible employee’s teacher retirement system benefits.

● Several new positions, including:

 the director, five additional teachers, receptionist, registrar, nurse, and two custodians at the new CCSD Learning Center (alternative school) location in the former Rutland Academy building on Oglethorpe Avenue

four additional unarmed security guard positions and five new facility maintenance positions

an additional district translator and an information technology analyst

Two additional paraprofessionals at each of the district’s 14 elementary schools for a total of 28 new parapro positions

An additional mental health counselor at Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central high schools.

The General Fund budget, if approved, would also absorb 12.5 school-level positions previously funded Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money and continue funding for nine district-level positions

ARPA funds.

 

As required by state law, the school board will conduct three public hearings, starting June 3, due to the proposed millage rate being higher than the “rollback” rate — the rate that would be used to produce the same amount of taxes collected in FY2024. There is an expected increase of 7.36% for property taxes levied in 2024, and while the millage rate would remain the same under the tentative budget, that would in effect increase overall property-tax collections by 1.289 mills.

Each year, the assessed value for taxable property in Athens-Clarke County is recalculated, and the Board of Tax Assessors is required by law to reassess values based on fair market value. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $350,000 is approximately $167.57, and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $450,000 is approximately $232.02.

All public presentations and hearings will be held in the Vernon Payne Meeting Hall at the Clarke County School District administrative offices building, located at 595 Prince Ave., Athens. Anyone who wishes to speak may contact Lisa Palmer, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Board Manager, at palmerli@clarke.k12.ga.us in advance, or sign up at the door before the meeting begins. The meeting schedule for the budget hearings and millage rate hearings is as follows:

● 6 p.m. Monday, June 3 – budget presentation and millage rate hearing

● 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 – budget presentation and millage rate hearing

● 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 12 – budget presentation and millage rate hearing.

All three hearings will be live streamed and available for on-demand viewing on the CCSD YouTube channel.

The board is scheduled to give final budget approval and set the millage rate at its next scheduled regular meeting on Thursday, June 13, at 7 p.m. in the Vernon Payne Meeting Hall.

 

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