Columbia County Schools are not getting nearly six million dollars from the state in 2013. To make up for the deficit, their options are furloughing teachers, increasing class sizes, or increasing the millage rate from 17.5 mills to 18.5 mills. Meaning if you own a $100,000 house you would pay about $50 in taxes.
Regina Buccafusco with the Columbia County Board of Education says, “We do have a budget shortfall of about 6-million dollars. That's because the funds that come from the state have been decreasing for the last 6 years. We have 5,000 more students then we had at that time, we're only getting two percent more funding from the state.”
The School Board is considering a Millage tax increase of 1 mill. This means if you own a $100,000 dollar home you would pay $50 dollars more in property taxes next year.
School board members say they have no option but to try and bring in revenues to keep teachers on the job.
“The only thing we can do is property taxes. That's our only means of increasing funding,” explains Buccafusco.
Two other options are on the plate: furloughing teachers and increasing class sizes. Buccafusco says neither of those options is beneficial to the 30 schools in Columbia County.
Buccafusco says,”We already have the largest class size we've ever had in history. I don't think we should go there; we need to keep each of our 180 instruction days that we have. ”
89 percent of the budget currently goes to salaries and benefits. The remaining amount goes into health care and teacher assistant costs. With nearly 500 new students enrolling into the school system each year, Buccafusco says there's a need for more teachers. But right now, there simply isn't enough money to hire them..
I believe and I hope the tax payers of Columbia County can understand and see,” pleads Buccafusco.
The school board will be meeting May 14, and 21 to discuss the three options. Voting and approval will take place May 28, 4:00 at the Board of Education Building