Montgomery County BOE Straightlines Millage Rate
At the regularly scheduled meeting on August 22, the Montgomery County Board of Education proposed to keep the millage rate at 15 mills, which will bring about a 4.49% net tax increase.
The Montgomery County School System (MCSS) has kept the millage rate at 15 mills since 2017, as the Board said that this is the rate required by the state to avoid losing equalization funds for the schools. Increases in taxes with this rate did not occur until 2019, when taxes increased by 2.345, totaling $57,174. The next year brought an even smaller increase, continued from page
which totaled $11,039 or 0.44%; however, 2021 saw an 11.065 net tax increase, which brought in an additional $277,156.
This year’s millage rate is expected to bring in $2,909,210, an increase of $125,125 from last year. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $100,000 is approximately $1.06, and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $200,000 is $2.16.
This comes as a second tax increase to Montgomery County taxpayers, as the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners have proposed a millage rate increase of 0.250 mills. The effect on a home with a fair market value of $100,000 will be $10, and the increase on a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $50,000 will be $5.00.
Board members will hear the concerns and reactions from the public to this proposed millage rate at a series of three public hearings, which are scheduled to be held at the Montgomery County Board of Education office on Thursday, September 8, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Thursday, September 15, at 2 p.m. The rate will be voted on following the last public hearing. County Agent Introduced
Southeast District County Extension Coordinator Cheryl Poppell introduced new Montgomery County Agent Lauren Braddy Stanley, who will also work with the area 4-H youth program. The Board approved helping to pay the salary the County Agent at the regular March meeting of the Board of Education after an agreement was made by the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, University of Georgia Extension Office, and Montgomery County School System to jointly fund the position. Stanley was interviewed and recommended for the position by the UGA Extension Office, and became the County Agent upon the County Commission’s approval last month.
“She is probably no stranger to most of you. Lauren Stanley comes to us after a few years in education and has also worked in agricultural chemical companies. She has a lot of experience in both agriculture and natural resources, and youth, and I believe she will be a great resource and asset to this community,” Poppell told the Board. “I also want to thank you for your funding this position and bringing a County Agent back to Montgomery County.
Many board members remembered Stanley from her time as the elementary and middle school agriculture teacher during the 2020-2021 school year, and were enthusiastic about her return to the area.
“I want to thank you so much for your support for this position. I truly think I have found what I think will be my true passion, which will be serving the county as the agent for agriculture and natural resources, as well as the 4-H youth program,” Stanley told the group. “I really look forward to serving my home and community. I can honestly say that the kids here are unmatched. I did not find anyone like them anywhere else. I look forward to working with those students again, and I hope that I can be an asset to the community.”
Board Chairman Jim Paul Poole spoke to Stanley on behalf of the Board. “We do want to thank the UGA Extension Office for finding us a very good agent. We look forward to working with you, Mrs.Stanley, for the good of all of our children.”
The Centegenix security alert system was approved to be purchased and installed at each school campus for $112,401, and will be funded through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. This system is currently being employed by several other surrounding school systems and allows teachers to call for immediate help from school staff and/or emergency professionals.
The system is controlled by a badge, which the school requires all staff members to wear. When an incident occurs, these staff members may press the badge 3 times for school personnel’s response, and 8 for emergency personnel’s response. These badges then transmit this signal to the appropriate authorities who can see the location and identification of the staff member requesting assistance.
When the badge is pressed 8 times for an emergency, red lights begin flashing in the hallway, a message plays over the intercom, computer screens within the school show emergency procedures and where the emergency is occurring, and law enforcement is contacted.
“Teachers would press the badge 3 times for things like an injury, a fight, or other school level incidents,” Assistant Superintendent Brian Barnhill. “Meanwhile, they would press it 8 times for things like intruders, shooters, heart attacks, and major events of that nature.”
Barnhill also presented the Board with testimonies from other school systems, such as Houston and Muscogee County and Metter School System, who all agreed the system is an excellent investment in their schools’ safety. The installation will occur between October and November of this year. Once installed, teachers and staff will be trained on the equipment and will conduct periodic practice drills of the alert system.
Board members approved the purchase of 2 gasoline-powered Blue Bird buses for $127,694 each. Transportation Director Reggie Ricks explained that continued from page
the school has been allotted $450,000 to purchase five buses. This gives the school $88,110 to spend on each bus, but the money must be spent within 3 years.
According to Ricks, the price of buses has increased by around $18,000 per bus, so he fears the price will continue to increase if action is not taken now. The allotted state funding will be used for both buses, as well as an additional $39,584 of Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) per bus.
New Policies Budget The FY23 budget was unanimously approved by the Board at the August meeting. This new budget projects $17,610,991 of total revenue, $11,000,000 from the general local and state funding and $6,610,941 from SPLOST, local sources, and ESSER. It also shows plans to use all ESSER funds for the designated purposes by FY24.
IEDA, IKBB, IKBC
Three policies were placed on the table for the procedural 30 days, and will be voted on at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The IEDA Policy, also known as the Recess/Unstructured Break Time policy, requires all elementary school students to have some form of recess every day, except for days when physical education, structured activity time (field trips, assemblies), or inclement weather (with no indoor space available) occurs.
The IKBB Policy, or Divisive Concepts Complaint Resolution Process, states that parents, emancipated minors or students at age of majority, or school staff may submit written complaints on divisive concepts being taught or encouraged at the school. Once the principal of the school where the alleged violation occurs receive a written complaint, they have 5 days to investigate the issue, and 10 days to respond to the complainant. Once receiving the administrative response, the complainant may appeal to the Superintendent and Board of Education, who will then review the situation and make a decision.
Complainants also have the right to request nonconfidential records that may substantiate a complaint under this policy. Records should be produced and available for review within 3 days, and if not, the requester should be given a reason why the records are unavailable or a timeline of availability. If records or response is not given within 30 days, the individual may appeal the denial or failure to the Board, who must put it on the next meeting’s agenda. Some subjects that are deemed “divisive concepts” within the policy are: racism, personal political beliefs, race scapegoating, and racial stereotyping. The IKBC Policy, also known as Material Harmful to Minors Complaint Resolution process, has similar guidelines. This policy allows parents or guardians to submit detailed complaints of this nature to the principal of the child’s school. Within 7 days, the school principal should review the complaint and review the situation. The parent should receive a response from the school principal within 10 days, and once that response is received, the parent may appeal the decision to the Board, which will speak with the parent and investigate the situation.
The title of the material that the Board determines to not be harmful should be placed on the Board’s website within 15 days of the decision and will remain there for no less than 12 months. The parent may also request access to appealed materials that are physical in nature and accessible to students through the school’s media center.
Examples of material that are considered harmful to minors in this policy are the description or representation of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse when it appeals to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest, lacking in educational value, or discussed in a offensive nature.
The 10-day leave for COVID-positive teachers was renewed by the Board. Superintendent Report Childcare Superintendent Stan Rentz told Board members that the school system is studying surrounding school systems, such as Telfair County Schools, with on-campus childcare facilities for teachers. These facilities do come at a cost for these employees, but allow them to have childcare for their children at the same location of their job.
Increase in Enrollment
Rentz said the school system is experiencing an increase in enrollment in the pre-k age group. This uptick has allowed the school to create an additional pre-k class, which began this week.
Teacher of the Year
Teachers at each school will begin to vote for the teachers of the year later in the month. A Support Person of the Year will also be chosen from each school after the recommendation from Rentz. This award will celebrate lunchroom personnel, paraprofessionals, office receptionists, and other support staff who help the schools to function daily.
The resignations of First Grade Teacher Tammy Murdaugh and Bus Monitor Regina Best were accepted. The following new hires were approved: Bus Monitor Alberta Conner, Bus Monitor Crystal Williams, Work Based Learning Custodian John Holder, Elementary School Special Education Paraprofessional Alicia Newsome, Elementary School Special Education Professional Ashley Coursey, Pre-K Paraprofessional Brittany Bullard, Pre-K Teacher Madison Thomas, and First Grade Teacher Donna Wilcox. Several substitutes were also approved, including: Randy Dudley, Laura Clark, Janice Nobles, Amy Brantley, Donna Warren, Leaette Williamson, and Lazaria Williams.