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Board of Education holds public hearing on millage rate

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett County Board of Education held the first of three public hearings Monday night as part of the process for approving a millage rate for the next year.

The school system is hoping to keep the rate, which determines school tax bills, at its current level of 20.55 mills.

Under the proposed rate, those taxpayers whose property has not been reassessed this year will see no change in their school tax bill. The Gwinnett County Tax Assessor's Office conducts annual property reassessments on about one-third of the county's property on a rotating basis.

Though it was a public hearing, no parents or community members attended the meeting Monday to voice their support or opposition to the rate.

"The law requires us to hold these hearings even though we're maintaining the same millage rate," Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said.

The school millage rate is used to support the budget for the next academic year, which was adopted during the school board's May monthly

meeting.

On a house worth $150,000, a homeowner could expect to pay $1,556 under the current millage rate. A $250,000 home would equal $1,978 in school tax bills, said Jeff Weiler, chief financial officer of Gwinnett County Public Schools.

The school system is keeping the same rate as last year despite budget cuts and a steep expected increase in enrollment. The total enrollment for the 2006-07 school year is about 151,000 students - an increase of 7,305 students from this year.

Parents and community members will have two more chances to go before the school board to voice their opinion on keeping the current rate. Both of the public hearings will be held next Monday at the school system's Instructional Support Center in Suwanee. The school board is expecting to approve the millage rate during the second hearing at 7 p.m.

For more information on the budget for next year, visit the school system's Web site at www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us.

New principals appointed

Following the public hearing, the school board approved the appointments of two new principals for the 2006-07 school year.

Nancy Kiel, an assistant principal at Simpson Elementary School, will become the new principal of Level Creek Elementary School. She has been an educator since 1990 in Louisiana, Tennessee and Fulton, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.

Kiel will be replacing Linda Anderson, who was appointed the school system's new executive director for school improvement.

Kellye Riggins will be taking over as principal of Dacula Middle School after five years as the school's assistant principal. Prior to that, she was a middle school teacher in Barrow and Columbia counties for nine years.

She will be replacing Principal Georgia Barnwell, who is retiring this month. Both changes will be effective

July 1.

There is only one more principal vacancy left to fill for the 2006-07 school year. Principal Mary Anne Charron will be retiring, leaving an opening for Norcross High School.