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School tax rate is unchanged
Official warns of future hurdles
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Forsyth County News
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Also Thursday, Forsyth County's school board:

• Heard from Beth Kieffer, director of assessment, who gave an update on Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT, and End of Course Test results.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” she told the board, particularly with students exceeding expectations and not just meeting them.

The county fared better than the state and in most instances, better than other large counties.  

• Received updates on improvements to schools and future projects. They also reviewed a financial report, showing the cost of maintenance and operations from the past year was within budget.

• Voted to renew contracts for ANGEL Learning Management System at $231,424 and Edusoft for $319,157.

ANGEL is a computer program used to communicate within the system and to parents and students. On average, each student visited the system 81 times last year.

Edusoft is computer software used for data analysis and setting benchmarks. Kieffer said it is one of the key factors in test score increases.

-- Jennifer Sami

As promised, the Forsyth County Board of Education voted Thursday to keep the school system's millage rate at 15.395 mills, the same as last year.

But Dan Jones, the system's finance director, warned the board about the future. In particular, 1-cent sales tax income has consistently fallen well below projections.

For 2010-11, Jones said the system can pull from debt services to make up the difference. But after that, Jones noted, the system is limited in how it can pay off its bond debt.

“If our sales tax does not increase significantly ... come [20]12 and 13, we’re going to have to look at raising the millage rate,” he said.

“Keep in mind that as we go through this next year, unless things turn around, we’re going to have to look at some adjustments.”

He did point out that tax collections have already started to improve, adding that the lack of a state sales tax holiday this year could provide a further boost.

Also during Thursday's meeting, there was good news for Forsyth Central High School.

Robert Sewell, facilities director for the district, announced the recent purchase of nearly 11.2 acres adjacent to the previously landlocked high school on Tribble Gap Road in Cumming.

The purchase price was $105,045, Sewell said, which was low due to foreclosure.

“We were able to negotiate,” he said. “We thought it was a very good deal.”

Following the meeting, Sewell said the property could be used for anything from track fields and parking to more classrooms.

“They had nowhere to expand out there and this gives them that opportunity,” he said.