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GCPS to hold public meetings on millage rates

The public is invited to discuss proposed millage rates this week and next as Gwinnett County Schools officials open three meetings about the funding measures.

The meetings will be at 11:45 a.m. and 6 p.m. both on Thursday, while the third will be at 7 p.m. June 26. All three meetings will be held at the district office at 437 Old Peachtree Road NW in Suwanee. The Gwinnett School Board adopted a $1.86 billion budget in May for fiscal year 2015, and the current total school millage rate, expected to be maintained, is 21.85.

The maintenance and operations millage is recommended to remain at 19.80 mills and the debt-service rate is recommended to remain at 2.05 mills.

Local revenue is budgeted to increase by about $20 million because of a five percent increase in the property tax digest, which ends a streak of five straight years where the digest dropped by more than 25 percent.

The higher-than-expected property tax allowed the district to give employees a one-time bonus for all full-time, benefited employees of Gwinnett County Public Schools, which is the equivalent of two days of pay.

Depending on their daily rate, employees were expected to receive in June paychecks a minimum payment of $200 and a maximum payment of $913. A beginning teacher receives $396, while a teacher at the top of the salary scale receives $913, the maximum.

The adjustment cost the district $9 million, and is a reward for what district officials called a sacrifices of 10 furlough days over five years. It also doesn’t decrease the year-end fund balance that was budgeted to carry the district into the next fiscal year.

All of the additional state and local revenue projected for fiscal year 2015 is needed to fund the projected student enrollment growth of more than 3,200 students and, for the first time since the 2009-10 school year, provide a salary increase for teachers and other system employees. All employees will receive a two percent cost-of-living raise and, for those eligible, a longevity-step salary increase. The average teacher salary increase is 3.8 percent.

Citizens may address the School Board at any of the three public hearings. A sign-up sheet will be available at the hearings for those wishing to speak. There is no need to sign up in advance of the meeting date.

A copy of the adopted budget is available for public review on the school system’s website at www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us or through the school system’s budget department. For information, call 678-301-6200.