Bryan County Board of Education member Mary Warnell recently voiced her opinion of House Resolution 900, or the GREAT plan (Georgia Repealing Every Ad Valorem Tax).
She and Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer attended a meeting regarding the proposal, and Warnell gave the board an overview of her thoughts at the Sept. 27 board meeting.
"Every time there is a meeting, the bill has changed," she said. "House Speaker Richardson keeps rewriting it, based on information they get from meetings."
Warnell said she thinks the proposal will have a difficult time passing.
"You’ve got all the municipalities, county commissions, and school systems concerned about where their funds are coming from. In other words, if this were to go into effect, all monies would be in Atlanta," she said. "You wouldn’t have anything local, you wouldn’t have any funds."
Warnell pointed out that, over the last five years, the Bryan County schools’ state funding has been cut by $5 million, averaging $1 million a year.
"Every school system has had this, through austerity cuts. Well, we’ve not cut our programs to our schools by $5 million – because we have local tax dollars to keep this up. But with this particular bill, should it go into effect, we would have no money locally and no options," she said.
Billy Mock said the state would have to increase the funds allotted to school districts, and the new changes would simply take away local districts’ reign over the money. While both Warnell and Mock agreed tax relief is important, Warner said the local district can’t depend on the state to send the county what it has earned. Mock said it would be up to the state to decide.
"That’s the frightening part about this," she said. "Who do you trust?"
Warnell encouraged the board to join her on Oct. 22 for an advocacy workshop.
In other issues:
- Dr. Brewer gave her Good News update with the help of Principal Harold Roach, handing out awards to three BCHS students. Christina Anderson was recognized as the first place winner in Seventh District for the Georgia Farm Bureau’s Annual Art Contest. Ivey Mutcherson was recognized as WTOC, Savannah Morning News and WSAV Player of the Week and a nominee of Bryan County News Player of the Month; and Taylor Lucas was recognized as WTOC Super 11 Pre-Season All-Star Football for the 2007 Season.
- The board approved Richmond Hill’s request for five school busses and use of the primary and elementary school parking lots for the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival.
- A donation from the Bryan County Booster’s Club and Dennis Seger in the amount of $1,700 for softball uniforms at BCHS was approved; the board thanked the group for the donation.
- The board approved this year’s Consolidated Grant application for a total of $2,494,717 for improving teachers quality, safe and drug free schools, innovation programs, and special education programs. Associate Superintendent John Oliver said these numbers are about the same as last year.
- The board approved updates to the district’s employee benefits plan, effective Jan. 1. Financial Advisor Melanie James, took surveys from all employees to find out what was important to them. The school system now offers better coverage at lower rates for employees, and will save the district about $7,000 on board paid insurance as well.