After Dodge County superintendent Dr. Melinda Dennis formally recommended a 16.86 percent increase in the millage rate - from 11.998 mills to 14 mills - the Dodge County Board of Education voted to approve the increase 6-1 at the June 29 board meeting.
The board's decision followed three required public hearings on the proposed millage increase - two on June 18 and one on June 29.
Across all three meetings, only one citizen attended one meeting.
On such low participation in the past, Dennis
stated, "People generally like good schools," noting that citizens typically do not argue against working for the betterment of a school system.
added that the state legislature does not have mandatory hearings when it raises state taxes.
Rather, only local government entities bear this obligation.
At the hearings, Dennis
gave detailed overviews as to why the increase to 14 mills is not only beneficial but, more importantly, necessary.
As a result of changes made to a statute on equalization grants, if Dodge County
were not to raise its millage rate to 14 mills by July 1, 2019, it would lose $2 million in equalization grants.
Equalization grants exist to decrease the disparity between "poorer" counties that have more trouble raising money and "wealthier" counties with generally higher property values that have fewer issues raising money.
noted that schools are asked to do more as time progresses.
Transportation funding has decreased by $270,255.00, according to Dennis
, and technology funding has decreased by $78,125.
opined that examples of technology such as smartphones and tablets are like appendages to many students.
Therefore, instructional technology must be able to meet the demand of the students.
Although working with student preference may seem gimmicky to some, others argue that it fosters a welcoming environment and keeps students' attention, consequently encouraging them to stay in school rather than to drop out.
offered statistics correlating unemployment and annual earnings with the amount of education that one receives.
According to the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, citizens
with at least a Bachelor's degree fall into not only the category of lowest unemployment but also highest annual earnings.
In short, Dodge County
is required to do more while receiving less from the state in order to meet these "underfunded mandates that we receive from the state," Dennis
added, "The amount the employee chooses to include will be deducted on a 1/12th basis per month.