Board of Education Discusses FFA Barn Size and Field House Showers

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Board of Education met on the 28th at 6:00 p.m. Mr. Knighton gave the millage rate at 18.069, stating it would constitute a zero percent tax increase. Mr. Barnes made a motion to adopt the millage rate, Mr. Kearse seconded the motion, and the board approved it unanimously.

Matt Hightower addressed the board concerning HVAC projects and agreements. He stated that there is a possibility of acquiring some of the units before Christmas to install them over the break, but if not they would install them over the summer.

Greg Smith addressed the Board with updates on the field house. He discussed the possibility of removing a second unneeded washer and installing an ice machine. The need for coaches’ showers was also discussed. Mr. Smith stated that the added expense would be covered under contingency funds. Contingency funds are $95,000. Mr. Smith stated that the stage of construction with the most uncertainty in cost had already passed, freeing up most of the contingency funds.

“We certainly don’t want to use it all, but $18,000 right here would be a good one to use if we wanted to have the showers.” Board member Rick Barnes stated, referring to the contingency funds.

Mr. Smith gave details on the new Ag Multiplex, as well as showing other examples of Ag Multiplexes. The current plan would call for 10 cattle pens and 25 swine pens.

Board member Vincent Kearse discussed the size of the building.

“20,000 square feet, that’s a huge building. That’s a lot of maintenance on a huge building for a public school. I love FFA, but that’s a huge building. I want to make sure who’s paying for the pigs, cows, how many children are participating.”

Mr. Barnes likened the facility to investments made in athletics.

The board members discussed whether the FFA exercises enabled by the facility would constitute a pathway.

Mr. Edward Jackson expressed concerns about the number of students who would participate. Mr. Kearse also stressed that he was not against an FFA barn, but had concerns.

“I’m not saying don’t get an FFA barn. I’m talking about the size. We definitely need an FFA barn. The scope of it, the size of it is massive for the number of students we have participating in it.”

Mr. Smith clarified the size request made by the staff.

“What they actually wanted was space for ten cows and twenty-five swineherds, which takes that space for the livestock pens down to about half of what they were in those options.”

Mr. Smith stressed that the funding for the project left them with strict deadlines. He also suggested dropping the size of the arena and pens if the Board wanted to reduce the size of the facility.

Mr. Barnes stated the challenge before them.

“We got to sit together for the next two or three weeks and make a plan for thirty years on an agricultural building for our FFA for our kids from fourth grade up and we got to decide if its good today is it going to be good in ten, thirty years.”

Afterwards the Board went into executive session. When the Board went back into open session, they voted on the HVAC contract agreement and amendment between Sumter County Schools and Parrish Construction.

Mr. Kearse made a motion to accept the agreement. Mr. Jackson seconded the motion.

Mr. Barnes made a motion to approve the $18,000 addition of a shower and ice machine as a design change for the field house. Mr. Kearse seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

Mr. Barnes made a motion to employ architects J.W. Buckley and Associates for the Ag Multipurpose and Cannery Project. Mr. Kearse seconded the motion. Abbis Bivins voted against the measure, and Edward Jackson abstained. The motion passed with the support of the rest of the Board.

The Board unanimously approved having the Americus police force use the old high school for training.

The Board unanimously approved the personal recommendations, which included resignations for Thomas Sumner, Shekendra Lewis, Jeffery Ballard, and Mary Willis. Derrick Mann was suspended, Tracy Wilson was listed under Calender Adjustment, and Employments were Kiante Sims, Donna Key, Ti-Sha Adams, Rita Davis, and Jessica Myrick.