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Barrow Board of Education to discuss proposed '09 budget

WINDER - Barrow County's Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. tonight to discuss the proposed 2009 budget. Its compilers expect to spend more money without raising the millage rate.

The proposed budget will fund a 2.5 percent salary increase for all employees and will pay to add 29 teaching positions, more than half of them in the elementary schools, said Ken Cato, assistant superintendent of business services.

About $1 million is budgeted for fuel costs and, if prices continue to rise, more money might have to be budgeted for those costs, Cato said.

The proposed budget includes cash to hire five new bus drivers and to buy 15 new school busses. The average 74-passenger school bus costs about $72,000, Cato said.

Also budgeted is $1.3 million to purchase textbooks and $330,000 to replace aging computers.

The proposed budget's largest expenditure is teachers' salaries at $39.9 million. It's smallest is $500 for books and periodicals.

Barrow County's school millage rate stands at 18.5. The state caps that figure at 20.

Taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by the millage. A mill is one-tenth of 1 cent.

Anticipated growth is one source of funding that will allow the system to spend more money without raising taxes, Cato said.

"We are anticipating a 5 percent growth in the tax digest," he said. "Historically it's been a 9 to 10 percent growth, but we are being encouraged to be conservative. We might have to pull back on some of those expenses if there is not enough growth."

The system also expects a $2 million increase in the state equalization grant, Cato said.

The board is expected to make a final vote on May 27.

SideBar: If you go

· What: Public work session to discuss Barrow County schools' 2009 budget

· When: 6 p.m. tonight

· Where: Professional Development Center, 179 W. Athens St., Winder