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Final two school district budget hearings set for June 27
Dr. Yancy Ford
Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

The public has two more opportunities to give its input to the Effingham County School Board regarding the proposed 2023-2024 budget.

The first public hearing on the budget was held on June 15 prior to the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting. About ten members of the public were present, but no public comments were made.

The final two public hearings are scheduled for June 27 – 11:30-12:20 p.m., and 6-7 p.m. The school board will meet in its regular meeting following the second budget hearing at 7 p.m.

The meetings will be held at the BOE board room, 405 N. Ash St., Springfield.

The proposed budget includes pay increases for teachers and classified staff.

The teachers’ pay increase of $2,000 was mandated by Gov. Brian Kemp; and the district’s classified staff (bus drivers, food service, custodial, paraprofessionals, etc.,) will see another $3/hour increase in 2023-2024. A $3/hour pay increase was last approved in 2022. Most classified positions start at $17/hour. Teacher salaries begin at just under $42,000/year.

“We have to make sure we increase our salaries if we want to get good people, good employees and keep them,” District Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said.

Millage rate discussion

The school board is considering two budget proposals: one that leaves the millage rate at its current 2023 number of 15.81; and the second that includes a rollback to 14.913.

Here is how the millage rate comparisons break down:

If the board adopts a budget with the same millage rate of 15.81, the district’s gross property tax estimate is estimated to be just over $51.5 million. Of that the district pays $1.28 million (2.5%) to the county, for a net property tax estimate of $50.2 million.

If the board adopts a budget with a millage rate rollback to 14.913, the district’s gross property tax estimate is around $48.85 million. Less the 2.5% to the county of $1.21 million, the district’s net property tax estimate is about $47.37 million.

Dr. Ford expounded on the total local funding sources for the district. In addition to the property taxes, the district receives the title ad valorem tax from car sales, and “tax in lieu of ad valorem,” from Georgia Power, Georgia Transformers, etc., for a total of just over $56.6 million.

“That's about 35% of the revenue that we get of our total to help operate (the district,)” Dr. Ford explained.

In addition to the $56.6 million from local taxes, the district receives $102.8 million from the state based on student full-time enrollment, an equalization funding grant of $15 million, $86 million transportation grant, and preschool grant, among others, including the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST).

Effingham County Schools will be offering preschool in 30 classrooms in 2023-2024.

District growth

Dr. Ford showed how the county digest has increased more than $503 million in the past five years, due mainly to increasing property assessments along with the county’s population growth. According to the Georgia Department of Education website, Effingham County schools had just over 14,000 full-time students enrolled in spring 2023.

The district has been able to keep up with increasing student populations, Dr. Ford explained. Effingham County schools have added about 600 students each of the past two years.

“As we get new students, it’s been very important to this board that we continue to have smaller class sizes for our teachers, because we know it’s easier to teach an elementary classroom of 15 to 18 versus 25,” Dr. Ford said. “We've really tried to work closely with our human resources department and also our finance department to make sure that we adequately fund that.”

The entire budget discussion and funding breakdown is available on the district website at under the “School Board” and “Meetings and Agendas” tabs.