At a called board meeting of the Forsyth County Board of
Education held Tuesday, board members gave their final approval on a millage
rate for the 2020 budget, locking in a rate that has remained unchanged for five
years, which will lead to a 4.28% increase in property taxes.
Board members unanimously approved a 17.3 Maintenance and Operations millage rate and a 2.418 debt service rate, which was previously recommended by the system’s financial staff.
According to outgoing Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner, over the month of July the system held four public hearings on the proposed millage rate, one more than is required by law. But no comments or concerns were brought forward by members of the public.
During the budgeting and millage rate proposal process, system staff also considered a rollback in both millage rates – to a 16.59 Maintenance and Operations millage rate and a 2.319 debt service rate – but ultimately decided to leave the rates untouched.
Now that the rates have been approved, they will be combined with the county rate of 7.936 for a total millage rate of 27.654 mills.
The county millage rate is combined with the total Forsyth County Schools rate and the state rate for the total millage rate paid by taxpayers.
The millage rate is the formula that calculates property taxes. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.
Library card partnership approved by board
During Tuesday’s called meeting, board members also heard from members of the system’s Instructional Technology and Information Systems departments about a proposed partnership between Forsyth County Schools and the Forsyth County Public Library system that would issue every student in the county a public library card.
According to District Media Specialist Kristin Deuschle, over the last several years they have been working to determine the best way of issuing the system’s nearly 50,000 students a library card.
In that time, Deuschle said that they determined that the best and most effective way to achieve that goal is with an opt-in system which would issue students a “virtual” library card tied to their county student ID number.
"We determined that a virtual card would probably be the best for our kiddos in this virtual world. Even better than that was if the library card number was their school ID number,” she said. “So that all students had to do to access all public library books – anything that they have online, resources – would be to type in their student ID number and then a password."
In the presentation, Director of Student Information Kathy Carpenter told the board that the opt-in method for the virtual card would be added to the system’s open house parent permission forms so parents could choose what they wanted for their child.
Deuschle said that in their agreement with the library system, parents of students who already have library cards could also decide whether they want to stick with their student’s current card or move to the virtual system.
"I'm really excited about this,” Forsyth County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden said after the presentation. "It's a great synergy between the school system and the library system. It's just more resources for our kids, more opportunities for our kids, and anything we can do to create more opportunities, we ought to be doing."
The proposal was approved 4-0 with Board Chairwoman Kristen Morrissey recused, as she is also a member of the Forsyth County Public Library Board of Trustees.