The Barrow County Board of Education will be asked, and no opposition was voiced Tuesday night, to approve a $137.2 million budget for Fiscal Year 2020 next week. That figure will include $1.2 million to start putting audio and video technology in every classroom and a new agriculture program at Haymon-Morris Middle School.

Installing the audio and video capabilities in every class is estimated to cost $4.2 million. The board will decide later, perhaps this fall, about whether to pay for it out of the school district reserves as it goes or to finance the total amount over five years.

The final budget is expected to be adopted at a called meeting June 18.

The school millage rate of 18.5 mills is expected to remain the same, just as it has since 2007. The “rollback” millage rate, the number which would generate the same amount of revenue for FY20 as for FY19, will be announced in June.

Public hearings on the budget will be at 10 a.m. May 30 and 6 p.m. June 12. Both will be at the professional development center, the administrative offices of the school system.

The audio and video was added to the budget largely as a security measure for the district. Board member Stephanie Bramlett termed today’s society a “world of accusations.” She characterized the move as protection for students and teachers.

Board chair Lynn Stevens urged the addition of the capabilities at a work session about the budget. She renewed that Tuesday, saying she favored the move, but she added, “I don’t think we need to do it all at one time.”

Superintendent Chris McMichael said he would make a recommendation about the audio and video technology at Tuesday’s meeting.

He said he would prefer the board add $1.2 million to the budget for the security cameras. That would be enough to pay for four schools, he said.

Board member Rickey Bailey asked when the district will have “hard numbers” for the reserve account. He said he would rather amend the budget later in the year when the finances are settled.

See more in the in the May 1 edition of the Barrow News-Journal.

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