Franklin BOE Proposing Millage Rate Increase for FY 15

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

The Franklin County Board of Education has signed off on its proposed FY 2015 budget, but it comes with a millage increase.

The current school millage in Franklin County is 16.868 mils. The board is proposing raising the millage 1.75 mills to 18.618 mills.

At its meeting earlier this month, the board voted to approve the FY15 budget for advertisement.

Franklin County School Superintendent Dr. Ruth O’Dell said the increase is needed to fund some of the things the board is putting back in the budget that have been taken out over the past several years.

“They have given five days back to all the certified personnel,” she said. “And then we have 164-day calendar instead of the 160-day calendar, which meant we operate four more days. That meant four more days for classified personnel, bus drivers, secretaries, that kind of thing. And they’re aware of how much all of that is going to cost in reference to the money we got from the state as well as local tax money.”

Since 2008, administrators in Franklin County have been cut 10 days, but last week the board voted to give them back five days. The board also voted to give back the responsibility supplement and give back half of the local supplement.

“We have no local supplement for the past several years in our county and that’s been very difficult for our employees,” O’Dell said.

Adding back in the supplement comes to about $400,000 a year, O’Dell said. She said not having a local supplement to offer teachers the past few years has made it hard to attract good teachers.

“That’s your, ‘Hey we’re glad you work here and we want you to come to our county to work,’” she said. “Right now we’re saying, ‘If you come all you’re going to get is what the state salary schedule will give you, there’s no local incentive. Well right away that makes it more difficult to attract the best teachers and staff. It also makes it difficult to attract coaches because it isn’t as competitive.”

The board also voted to fill a number of positions, that O’Dell said are desperately needed.

“We’re asking for math and science teachers at the high school and we have a request for three special education teachers,” she said. “We’ve got some significantly at-risk students at all of our schools that we’ve got to support. We’ve also asked for an extra assistant principal at the split schools and a para-professional at the middle school.”

O’Dell said earlier, the school system has had to use half of its $2-million reserve fund this school year to make ends meet. That means Franklin County schools will be going into the 2014-2015 school year with just over $900,000 in the fund balance.

The school board will vote to pass the FY15 budget on June 26th. Public hearings on the proposed millage increase are set for July.