Note from Superintendent of Schools

Note from Superintendent of Schools
Posted on 08/09/2019
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With the pending approval of the FY20 Lamar County Budget and proposed millage rate increase, we want to share a few facts to inform the community of the status of our budget, where the funds from the rate increase will be used, and why the increase is needed. Please see below:

FY 2020 Lamar County School Budget Facts

· While our budget has grown over time with additional students and increased expenses, the Lamar County School System’s revenue from the Lamar County tax digest has decreased.

· In 2008, the Lamar County Tax Digest, with a millage rate of 15.8, generated $7.9 million for the school district.

· In 2019, the Lamar County Tax Digest, with a proposed millage rate of 17.077, will generate $7.9 million for the school district. Various tax exemptions have decreased the net Lamar County Tax Digest, $25 million less per year. When revenue sources are removed, it places a larger burden on remaining sources.

· Our budget is driven by three main funding sources: State, Local and Federal funds.

· In Lamar County, our last budget breakdown was 48 percent State, 41 percent Local, and 11 percent Federal funds.

· The state average is 45 percent generated from Local funds. Lamar County Schools rely less on the local tax digest than most Georgia schools.

· Lamar County School District’s operating budget for 2019 is over $24 million. Even with this proposed millage rate increase, the local portion of the budget will drop to 37 percent in 2019.

· Lamar County has one of the lowest “expenditures per student” rates in the area, at $8,741.71. A difficult task in smaller school districts.

· Despite significantly increased costs (health insurance, TRS, etc.), Lamar County is one of the few, if not only, districts in the state that have decreased our expenditure per student since 2014. The state average is a $1,013 increase per student since 2014.

· The Lamar County School district has not accepted a “rollup” in taxes the last 5 years, even when eligible, and has accepted the “rollback” on each occasion.

· The school bond millage was reduced .5 mills in 2018.

· This millage rate increase has nothing to do with the new high school or any facilities. Our Maintenance & Operations budget strictly covers Maintenance & Operations, mainly the salaries and benefits of personnel.

· LC Schools have an armed police officer and nurse in every building. Safety and security are top priorities. This commitment comes at a cost. No state or federal funds contribute to these expenses.

· LC Schools have certified music &/or art teachers in every building, exceptional CTAE and extracurricular offerings, even JROTC & Healthcare courses at the middle school. All at an additional expense.

· Despite outperforming many area school districts, Lamar County consistently has the lowest pay for certified and classified staff in the area. We lose quality employees every year to surrounding counties strictly due to compensation discrepancies.

· THIS PROPOSED 1 MILL INCREASE WILL GO DIRECTLY TO A PAY INCREASE FOR ALL CERTIFIED AND CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES IN THE LAMAR COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, MOST OF WHOM ARE RESIDENTS OF LAMAR COUNTY. ALL CONTRIBUTE TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY.

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