Financial decisions for the BOE to consider

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022

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The Sumter County Board of Education (BOE) met Monday, April 11, 2022, to set the agenda for the regular meeting to take place on Thursday April 14, 2022. To open the meeting the BOE heard two presentations, one on facilities bonds, and another regarding air filtration systems. Both involve significant amounts of tax payers dollars. To open the discussion on bonds the representative presented information on his estimate of the cost for the new high school should it be built today. Due to inflation and increases of materials the presenter indicated the high school could likely cost an additional $15 million. He also estimates the ESPLOST tax will bring in about $500,000 per month. Thus far, the tax has not brought in such a high number but there was pontification that sales would continue to increase. With such an amount of money coming in the representative felt the school could consider making changes to the bonds in the amount of $5 million. The representative also spoke on the state of inflation and despite the raising costs of goods, felt SCS could consider doing further building on such items as additional athletic facilities. Rick Barnes was the only BOE member who proposed questions and the meeting moved on to the second discussion.

Air purification systems have been discussed for several months now. The filtration interest was garnered in reaction to COVID-19. An engineer and the school’s architect were made aware of the three salesmen who had presented their filtration systems to the BOE and were present to make the BOE aware of how air purification could work in tandem with the current system. They were in agreement that the filtration system already in place met the CDC standards and many of the components of the proposed systems were already in place in the new high school. Southwest Georgia humidity presents an issue which should be strongly considered before adding a filtration system such as the ones the BOE heard a sales pitch on. Some of the items the filtration salesmen presented were not clear to the engineer or architect because standards in filtration are already in place and some items presented included UV lighting and HEPA filtration systems. It was established that UV lighting can kill organisms on surfaces, but the professionals were hard pressed to understand how it would work in conjunction with air flow as an organism being blown about by air would likely not remain under the light long enough to be effective. HEPA filtration is used in hospitals. It is far above what is being recommended and requires ongoing financial investments to keep the system productive. Additionally, such a filtration system would demand large capacity motors. The BOE has heard three sales pitches on filtration systems. Again, Rick Barnes took the lead by offering questions. According to Carolyn Hamilton the BOE has determined they are interested in two of the options and requested the engineer and architect to compare the systems. They agreed to do so, but also made clear there were claims made by the salesmen which would best be answered by them as they were not able to justify some of the claims made. Filtration systems would cost the tax payers over 3 million dollars upfront and maintenance for future needs should the BOE decide the existing system is not adequate.

The agenda was then set for the voting meeting. Curriculum committee will be presenting an item for vote. Financial committee will be seeking approval of the monthly reports. Policy committee will present two policies for approval. Property committee will address items to include surplus items and donating a bus. Personnel committee required an executive session, and it is expected recommendations will be made by this committee as well. Other items to be covered include incentives and a possible raise for faculty and staff as proposed by Governor Kemp, new student support programming, reports on performance data, agreements and MOUs and the superintendent’s dashboard report.

All members were present for the meeting with the exception of Vincent Kearse. The regular meeting will be held on Thursday, April 12 at 7pm at 100 Learning Lane. The meeting is open to the public. This meeting as well as past meetings can be found on Sumter County Schools’ Facebook page by the same name.