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Toombs BOE May Raise Taxes
Monday, 12 July 2010

July 12--  There are only eleven school systems in Georgia which collect less in property taxes than Toombs County, but that may have to change.

Toombs County School Superintendent Dr. Kendall Brantley says the school board's practice of keeping the property tax rate low hurts not only how much money is collected locally, but also how much money the state sends to the county.  The more school taxes local citizens pay, the more money their schools receive from the state.

Dr. Brantley says the 11.4 millage rate in Toombs County cost the county school system several million dollars in state funds this year.  "We just can't keep taking penalties like we have of this magnitude.  We lost over $3 million dollars in this year's budget.  Although we've furloughed teachers, we've cut off water, we've cut off electricity, we've cut off everything we can do to scale the budget back and we're still having shortfalls," he said.

The school board has scheduled a budget review meeting July 29th and will consider the school property tax levy.  "We'll look at the overall budget and whether we can survive another year without raising the millage rate," Dr. Brantley says. 

In the meantime, Dr. Brantley will be looking at other sources of funding including federal help for school systems which have experienced a precipitious decline in funding.  "If we can't show it now, we won't ever show it.  We could possibly pay teachers out of federal funds and see if there is any way we won't have to raise the millage rate," he says.

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Dr. Brantley authored the following article regarding the Toombs County School System and its challenges.

DRAMATIC COASTER RIDE

The Toombs County School District has experienced much success in the past four years from academics, athletics, and Alzheimers. The great thing about Alzheimers is you forget all the negative things that have happened; the bad thing about it is that you forget all the positive things, and eventually forget everything. Maybe some politicians hope that the public gets Alzheimers when the November elections come around, but just in case, here are some things you need to remember concerning the Toombs County School System.

*The students and the teachers have continued to come through and the system has never had a school on the needs improvement list for not meeting "Adequate Yearly Progress" as defined under the federal "No Child Left Behind" law.

*Toombs County High School athletes continue to excel and the teams have captured region and sub-region championships in football, girl's softball, wrestling, cross-country, track, soccer, and baseball.

*Toombs County High School students have excelled on their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) performance and ranked second in the region (SATrocks.com) for several years finishing in the top 25% of the state.

*Lyons Primary School and Toombs Central School have received the designation of Distinguished Title I Schools for every year for several years, meaning they have achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in all subgroups of students for that time period.

*The Toombs County School System's state budget was cut by 14.61% this past school year ($2,925,061) and continued to operate without raising local taxes. Unfortunately, with the announcement that there will be another immediate $422,000 cut for the FY2011 school year, that record may not stand. Toombs County is one of the poorest school systems in wealth per child (169 of 180 school systems) with one of the lowest tax millage levies in the state and the Georgia General Assembly, and the Governor have made laws to induce a heavy penalty for those school systems that refuse to raise local property taxes. Systems who have much greater wealth (e.g. Atlanta Public Schools) actually receive much more money for their school operation from the state because they raised their local taxes to the maximum limit. Unfortunately, Atlanta City and other metro area counties are now experiencing some of the greatest home foreclosure rates in the nation because of fewer jobs and extremely high taxes. Atlanta politicians have done a great job in shifting their tax burdens to Toombs County!

*0ther rural systems have faced the same fate as Toombs County but Toombs County, Vidalia City, Montgomery County, and Treutlen County have combined their resources to operate more efficiently through the Southeastern College and Career Academy (SECCA) that will give our students a greater opportunity to pursue their college or career choices

*New facilities have been completed including the New Lyons Upper Elementary School and the new Toombs County Agriculture Center in the past four years. Through much local effort with the local option sales tax, a New Toombs County High School and Toombs Central School are now in the planning stage and construction will begin soon.

*Leadership is a key ingredient in the success of our school system and we thank God for his leadership in providing Toombs County with those who lead and those who work with them in working for the success of our students!

 

 
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