The Rockdale County Public Schools Board of Education voted to raise the school portion of the property tax by about 2 mills, from 21 mills to 22.99 mills on, as part of the $126 million budget passed earlier this year.This is the first time since 2002 the rate has been raised, when it went from 21.48 to 21.80. The rate has remained around 21.48 mills, fluctuating by about a half mill, since 1993. The last increase of more than a mill was between 1990 and 1991, according to figures from the Tax Commissioner’s office.
Although the rate is raised, the amount of taxes collected is projected to be less than last year, because of a shrinking tax digest and falling property values. Last year, with a 21 mill rate, about $58.7 million was levied. This year, with a 22.99 mill rate, the Tax Commissioner's office projected about $58.19 million would be levied locally.
The millage rate increase is part of a $126 million 2010-2011 fiscal year budget, which includes about $10.2 million in cuts and no furlough days. The budget also is made up of about $2 million in federal funds and about $63 million from the state.
The number of students registered and enrolled dropped by several hundred compared to last year. The enrollment figure for the first day of school was 13,725 students, which is 354 less than the first day last year. The school system is around 85.51 percent of projected enrollment, compared to 88.43 percent of projected enrollment on the first day last year.
The board voted to apply for a maximum class size waiver allowed by the state this year at the RCPS July 22 board meeting. Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis said "Even though we’re applying for the waiver, we don’t think our class sizes are going to be unmanageable... We’re doing this as a precautionary measure. We are not anticipating any class sizes that are significantly larger than what we had last year." Last year the school system also applied for a maximum class size waiver.
He estimated class sizes would increase about 0.5 students across grades in elementary school, about 0.9 students across grades in middle school, and 1.3 students across grades in high school. He pointed out the high school increase would still bring the average to 20.2 students, well below the maximum size.
"If we make an adjustment, we’ll try and make it within the schools, and then between schools as a last resort, and then the total last resort is having to hire someone. It gives us the flexibility but we don’t anticipate being anywhere too close to those maximum sizes."
School registration moves back to the West Avenue office on Aug. 2. It had been housed at 1400 Parker Road to accommodate larger crowds of families and students.