As a result of the Long County School System’s growth, 12 positions will be needed in 2014. The cost to fund these positions is estimated to be just under $600,000, according to a report the board of education heard during its Feb. 25 meeting. The board continued to work toward adopting a budget for fiscal year 2014.
“Our system has grown tremendously. This year alone, we had an additional 185 students enter our school system, and we already were just about maxed out on the number of students we had in our classes. So, we are going to have to hire a few more people,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said.
In 2005, Waters said, there were 2,178 students enrolled in the system; as of this March, there are 2,887, which is a growth of 25 percent.
Long County Board of Education Chairman Dempsey Golden acknowledged the school system’s need to hire additional employees and said that a result of the mid-term funding situation, the money for the positions will come from the state.
“Fortunately, we don’t allocate the mid-term state estimates each year in our budget, just so we have those funds ($576,102) for cases such as this,” Golden said.
Waters said that the state mid-term funding is based on a county’s growth every year. Long County’s growth has been one of the reasons that the BoE has not had to raise taxes during the past four years.
“Our adjusted net maintenance and operations digest figures have just about doubled from around $130,000 in 2006 to around $260,000 this year. But, fortunately, with the growth that we have had in the county, it has compensated for the difference, resulting in taxes not increasing,” Waters said.
Finance officer Bridget Welch touched on what an average-sized Long County home brings in in tax revenue.
“Calculating a 40 percent assessment on a $100,000 piece of property, the most that a property owner has had to pay annually is $628, and for the last three years it has been little less than that, remaining at $540 a year based on the total millage rate,” Welch said.
She said taxes collected from homeowners also have dropped because the BoE paid off a debt service bond in 2009, resulting in the elimination of 1.6 mils.
Board member Linda DeLoach said, “There are a lot of mandatory costs in a school system — things that are required by law that we have to do. I’m proud of all of the schools and all of the staff, along with our board members, who have worked very hard to keep our schools operating at a high level without raising taxes.”
Waters also said that with several school systems in the area having to implement furloughs, some employees had expressed concern about furloughs in Long County.
“According to our budget estimates, no furloughs look to be necessary. All we are going to do is continue to be as cost-conscious as we can be,” Waters said.
In other business:
• Waters updated the board on the repairs to Smiley Elementary School’s gym, which recently was damaged by a fire. The superintendent said that the inside has been repaired; curtains and inside walls were chemically cleaned; the ductwork was repaired; and the electrical system in the school was checked. He said work continues on the roof and carpet.
• The BoE voted to cancel school Feb. 26 due to heavy rain in the area, which left roads in bad condition.