Faced with several state-mandated school safety upgrades – and uncertainty about how it will pay for them – the Bowling Green Independent School District will seek a tax rate increase on real and personal property next week.
A recent notice published in the Daily News said the district is asking its school board to consider a rate hike to 84.5 cents from 82.8 cents per every $100 of real and personal property.
A public hearing for comments on the proposed rate is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the district’s central office at 1211 Center St., after which the board will consider approving the rate.
Bowling Green schools Superintendent Gary Fields said the district needs additional revenue to implement several improvements aimed at school safety.
Although lawmakers have said they’ll set aside money for school safety while drafting a state budget next year, Fields said his district isn’t taking any chances.
Even if the state does come through with funding, it might not be enough to cover all school safety improvements laid out in this year’s Senate Bill 1.
“We have these expenses now, and we have to be able to cover those expenses,” Fields said.
Passed in response to a deadly school shooting in Marshall County in January 2018, Senate Bill 1 ushered in a slate of new expectations for schools after it was enacted in March.
Along with fortifying school entrances with electronic locks, cameras and intercom systems, schools will be expected to add security to individual classrooms.
Classroom doors are to be equipped with hardware that allows them to be locked from the outside but opened from the inside, and doors are required “to remain closed and locked during instructional time,” according to the legislation.
Additionally, classroom doors with windows must be capable of being quickly covered during a school threat.
All schools are expected to comply with those provisions “as soon as practicable but no later than July 1, 2022,” according to Senate Bill 1.
None of the additional revenue from the proposed rate hike would go toward renovations at Bowling Green High School, Fields said.
In 2017, the district’s school board approved a 5.4-cent increase to help fund an overhaul of its high school, which brought the rate to its current 82.8 cents.
The property tax rate is applied to every $100 of assessed property value. So, for example, under the proposed 84.5-cent rate, the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $1,690. That would be an increase of $34 over the current 82.8-cent rate.
According to the notice advertising next week’s public hearing, the proposed rate hike to 84.5 cents on real and personal property is expected to generate $13,503,401.33.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.