Classroom teachers in Barrow County may get $1,000 on the local supplement for the fiscal year 2021.

The Barrow County Board of Education got a proposal Tuesday, Jan. 7, to increase the local supplement.

It would cost the school system about $1.3 million for the $1,000 per teacher. If it is approved, the added supplement would be in the budget that starts July 1.

Superintendent Chris McMichael said the local supplement has not been changed since the FY2015 budget.

Jennifer Houston, assistant superintendent for business services, warned the board that if the millage rate were to drop below the current 18.5 mills, the supplement probably would not be possible.

No one objected to leaving the millage rate at 18.5 mills.

Cindy Beggs, assistant superintendent for planning and personnel, said the proposal is for 995 teachers. It does not include other certified personnel such as counselors, media specialists or administrators. Beggs said after the meeting the other certified people have different supplement schedules.

Beggs also presented the board with two other proposals: a $1,500 supplement and a $2,000 one. Those would cost, respectively, $1.9 million and $2.5 million.

Board members were uniformly supportive of the increases. Board member Rickey Bailey termed it “long overdue.”

RENOVATIONS

Recommendations for costs of renovations at Apalachee High School and Westside Middle School were made at $5 million for AHS and $1 million for Westside.

Joe Perno, assistant superintendent for system operations, said the AHS work would be done over two summers, 2020 and 2021.

He said most of the work is on the HVAC systems at the high school.

The work at Westside Middle School is mostly finished on the common areas of the school, Perno said.

He said the WMS work in summer 2019 was concentrated on classrooms and the 2020 work would be in hallways, gym, cafeteria and other common areas of the school.

Perno also reported work on the district’s third high school, Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy is “on time and on budget.”

GLOBAL PATHWAY

Lee Bane, director of innovative learning, and Brandy Alexander, academic director for the University of Georgia, outlined the Georgia Global Pathway program, a new effort that aims at black, low-income and first-generation college students for study abroad.

A release from UGA said research shows that students who study abroad “enjoy significantly higher four- and six-year graduation rates from college.

Bane said after the meeting that the program seeks to expose students to the benefits of studying abroad. He said students from better educated and wealthier families get those benefits. First-generation students, he said, are often happy just to be in college and don’t recognize programs that can broaden horizons.

The J.W. Fanning Institute at UGA will work with Barrow County administrators on the program.

Bane said the program is in its first year.

PROPERTY TAXES

Houston made a presentation on property taxes to the board. She said the presentation has been made to the Winder City Council and the Barrow County Board of Commissioners.

Administrators and board members have complained for years that the district has less revenue than comparable-sized school districts.

Houston said the Barrow County school system has the second-lowest amount of school taxes among the seven counties that includes Barrow and surrounding counties. Barrow County has about $40 million in school taxes, including bonds. It does not include city school districts.

It has the third highest number of students in those counties, behind Gwinnett and Hall, both of which are much larger than the others. Jackson and Oconee counties are the smallest with about 8,000 students. Gwinnett is the largest district with 185,000 students.

Barrow County has the third-highest millage rate at 18.5 mills. But Walton and Jackson counties also have millage rates with more than 18 mills – 18.6 mills for Walton and 18.858 for Jackson. The lowest school district is Oconee County at 16.5 mills and the highest is Clarke at 20 mills.

Houston said the median Barrow County home value is $134,300. Based on that number, a property owner would pay about $957 in school taxes. According to the schools, the local share of education is $2,845. Jackson County is the highest at $6,983. It would take about 40 years, Houston said, to pay the local share of a student’s education.

“The discussion (among senior citizens) that ‘I have already paid for my child’ is usually a false discussion,” Houston said.

Barrow County’s school taxes are near the bottom, when considering surrounding county schools, Houston said.

Board member Stephanie Bramlett said Debi Krause and she talked to a man about the tax numbers. She said people are “listening” to the school’s story about the district. She said the man had a different interpretation and different numbers. She pointed out that Cobb, DeKalb and Forsyth counties, which are mentioned at the beginning of the presentation, have much larger numbers of students than Barrow County.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the BOE:

•agreed to hire Derrick Maxwell as interim principal for Winder-Barrow High School. He will replace Al Darby, who will move to the central office next week. Darby will work in the student services department under assistant superintendent Ken Greene. He will work on transportation issues and district-wide athletic questions.

•saw a report that shows the district had 14,319 students on the 80th day of school. At the same time in 2018, the schools had 14,058 students. The gains continue to come at the middle school and high school area. Both county high schools have a little more or little under 2,000 students. Haymon-Morris and Russell middle schools each have more than 900 students. Russell has 977, nearly 1,000. Two of the district’s elementary schools, Yargo and Kennedy, have more than 900 students. Kennedy had 933 on the 80th day and Yargo had 927.

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