DeKalb Board of Education announces there will be no increase in millage rate

DeKalb County School District Administration and Instructional Complex on Mtn. Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

DeKalb County, GA  — In a press release June 8, the DeKalb Board of Education seemed to be considering a tentative millage increase of 1.721 mills; however, it was announced at the meeting that the millage rate for Fiscal Year 2022 would remain at 23.08.

“The increase referred to in the press release is how much the district is above the ‘Rollback Rate.’ The notice is legally required to be worded this way,” a spokesperson for the school district said. “The rollback rate is how much the district would have to lower the millage rate to not increase taxes because of reassessment.”

Because the tax digest has increased, that is still considered a tax increase and it must receive three public hearings. The first two occurred on June 14 at 11 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., and the last mandated hearing will be held June 21 at 10 a.m.

The tentative Fiscal Year 2022 budget was presented by Chief Financial Officer Charles Burbridge.

“When we discussed the budget in May there was a $106 million gap that we needed to close,” said Burbridge. He went on to say that while the tax revenue projection increased, state funding through Quality Basic Education was not as much as hoped, and that there were minimal changes in the tentative budget from May to June.

Public hearings to solicit feedback on the tentative budget will be held June 21 and July 12. The Board will approve the final budget on July 12.

A joint resolution with Atlanta Public Schools and City Schools of Decatur to extend E SPLOST (SPLOST VI ) for an additional five years was passed by the board. The extension will begin July 1, 2022 and continue to June 30, 2027.

An update on the Comprehensive Master Plan presented by Chief Operating Officer Ben Estill included a report on remaining open projects from SPLOST IV and V. The remaining projects from SPLOST IV are primarily HVAC installations or replacements for elementary schools in regions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.

When not focused on matters related to the pandemic, public comment over the last year has frequently alluded to repairs needed at many of the district’s school facilities, especially elementary schools. Several board members acknowledged that the condition of some of the district’s facilities presented an urgent need.

Estill stated that he had met with all the regional superintendents and 80% of the principals in the school district, in order to identify priorities for ongoing capital outlay projects to include roof repairs, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, or other needs. He plans to meet with the rest of the school principals in the district by June 30.

Approval for two SPLOST V architectural and engineering repair projects were submitted at the meeting, one for Briar Vista Elementary and the other for Carey Reynolds Elementary, both to be completed by Corgan Associated, Inc.  A new project to install athletic field lighting at district high schools was also submitted for approval.

On June 24 at 6 p.m., there will be a virtual town hall in order to discuss how CARES Act funding was spent within the school district.

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