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Board of Education decreases 2021-22 tax to lowest in decade
Headshots of the 2021 Rockdale County Board of Education - Chair Mandy North, Vice Chair Pam Brown, Wales Barksdale, Heather Duncan, Sandra Jackson-Lett, Jim McBrayer, Akita ParmerConyers, Ga. – The Rockdale County Board of Education recently lowered the school portion of the property tax rate to 22.717, the lowest rate in more than 10 years. Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts recommended and the Board of Education approved this rollback millage rate for the 2021-2022 fiscal year at their July 15, 2021 meeting. By adopting the rollback millage rate, the Rockdale County Board of Education ensured that taxpayers would not see an increase in the school portion of their property taxes next year.

“As part of our commitment to good financial stewardship for the taxpayers of Rockdale County, we are proud to announce the lowest millage rate in over a decade,” said Board of Education Chairwoman Mandy North. “The board has either maintained or lowered the millage rate over the last eight years while providing world-class educational opportunities for the families of Rockdale County.” Remaining a debt-free school system and the community’s continued support through two decades of the E-SPLOST penny sales tax for education are further evidence of the school system’s tradition of fiscal responsibility and leadership, she added.

“Sound financial accounting and management coupled with ongoing collaboration between the Office of Superintendent, Financial Services, and our district’s departments and school leaders, under the responsible oversight of our Board of Education, made adoption of the rollback millage rate a reality,” said RCPS Chief Financial Officer Keith Hull.

“It is a testament to the fiscal leadership and hard work of our team under the focused fiscal oversight of our Board of Education that we are able to lower the tax rate for the citizens of Rockdale County while crafting a budget that is both responsible and responsive,” said RCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts. “The collective fiscal leadership that is required to significantly increase our fund balance, decrease property taxes, complete an ambitious capital program involving two major construction projects amid a pandemic, and afford our teachers and support personnel a regionally competitive salary all the while remaining debt-free with E-SPLOST collections at or above projections is nothing short of amazing if not world-class.”

In June, the Rockdale County Board of Education adopted a budget of approximately $171 million for FY22, with about 70 percent going towards instruction and student support. Maintenance, operations and transportation make up 10.6 percent of the budget while general administration and school administration make up 9.4 percent. About 59.5 percent of the school system’s revenues come from state funding and about 40.3 percent come from local funding sources.

The FY22 budget, which focused on addressing student needs and increasing competitiveness in recruiting and retaining top educators, includes a step increase for all employees and a significant salary increase for teachers and those paid on the teacher certification salary schedule. Employees will see an average 4 to 10.9 percent pay increase. The teacher pay increase came as a result of a comprehensive salary study that Dr. Oatts directed RCPS Human Resources to undertake shortly after he became Superintendent in 2018. The revised teacher pay scale incorporates a more competitive entry annual rate and uniform longevity increase. During Dr. Oatts’ tenure, the fund balance has grown significantly by approximately $20 million, enabling RCPS to be in a strong financial position to support increasing teacher salaries while lowering the millage rate.

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