School board to vote on budget Thursday

SUWANEE - The Gwinnett County Board of Education is expected to pass the school system's budget Thursday for the 2007-08 school year.

Board members will vote on the $1.7 billion budget during the 7 p.m. monthly business meeting, after a final public hearing also scheduled to take place during that meeting. The meeting takes place in the Instructional Support Center, 437 Old Peachtree Road NW, Suwanee.

If the budget is passed, all school system employees will receive at least a 3 percent cost-of-living raise. The budget includes $38.3 million for the raises, of which the state will fund $17.6 million.

Other improvements include the following:

•Instructional and operational start-up costs for Lovin, Mulberry and Patrick elementary schools and the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology

•Benchmark assessment and advisement programs for middle schools

•Increase in the allotment formula that allows schools to hire teachers of self-contained special education classrooms

•Additional buses for student field trips and extracurricular activities

•Materials for state-mandated middle and high school graduation coaches

At a public hearing May 3, Craig Lownes of Suwanee was the only member of the public in attendance. Lownes asked if the school system would be getting its fair share from property taxes. Although board members said they are sure the school district will receive the appropriate amount of tax dollars, they asked Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost to double check the math.

Although Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is not proposing an increase in millage rates, homeowners whose homes have been appraised at a higher value will see a property tax increase. About a third of Gwinnett's homes are reappraised each year.

The millage rate will not be finalized until June. Three public hearings are scheduled to take place before board members vote on Wilbanks' proposal to keep the rate at 20.55 for the third consecutive year.

The public hearings on the millage rates will take place at 7 p.m. June 4 and 11:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. June 11 at the Instructional Support Center.

For more information about the budget and to view the complete agenda for Thursday's meeting, visit the Gwinnett County Public Schools Web site at www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us.

n What: Final public budget hearing and Gwinnett County Board of Education monthly business meeting

•When: 7 p.m. Thursday

•Where: Instructional Support Center, 437 Old Peachtree Road NW, Suwanee

•For more information: View the complete agenda for the business meeting on the Gwinnett County Public Schools' Web site, www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us. Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks' proposed budget is also available online.