Tuesday February 9th, 2016 8:46AM

Hall Co. school board sets budget timetable

By B.J. Williams News Director
GAINESVILLE - The Hall County School Board Monday night approved a budget timeline as members work on a spending plan for the upcoming school year.

Board members have already heard proposals from Superintendent Will Schofield on some budget items - restoring the school calendar to a full 180 days for students and 190 days for teachers, adding 20 classroom positions across the system and increasing teacher compensation among the suggestions.

This year, as opposed to the past six, the state has restored some funding to local school systems, and Hall County should receive $9.8 million from the state budget. Even so, Schofield said, that's not full restoration of funding following all those years of austerity cuts.

"We're still going to have about a $12.5 million dollar austerity cut from the state, and that's a lot of money," said Schofield. "That translates to a lot of teaching positions, a lot of salary, a lot of support that we're still not going to be able to offer our boys and girls."

During Monday's discussion, Board Chairman Nath Morris pointed out that Hall County ranks 161 out of 195 public school systems in the state when it comes to per-pupil expenditure, a statistic Schofield said disappointed him.

While the board knows the dollar figure coming from the state, as well as the contribution amount coming from the federal government, the number the members don't have in place is the local revenue contribution.

Schofield said he expects to have a preliminary number on the tax digest by Thursday, May 1. The hope, he said, is that there will be an increase.

"We've heard everything from two to four percent," said Schofield. Somewhere in the three to four percent range would be very healthy, and again, it will be the first increase we've seen in six years. We're down 21-percent over those six years."

Depending on what happens with the local tax revenues, there could be a lowering on property tax rates, according to an outline provided at Monday's meeting. That item has not been placed in the budget just yet, however.

The BOE will begin a closer review of the budget next month; a vote on a final budget will not come until June.

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