Board of Education Meeting on September 11th Discusses Bonds, Ag Facility, and Aging Middle School

Published 11:13 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Board heard a proposal for the SPLOST renewal for the high school from Frank King.
“If you voted to renew, it would start in 2027 and run to 2032.”
He posed a question to the board.
“You really want to do some athletic and other facilities at the school, but you don’t have enough money right now to do what you want to do, correct? So the only way to really get it all is to go ahead and renew this SPLOST, but because it doesn’t start until 2027 you would have to do a bond issue to get your money now.”
He addressed interest payments.
“That’s about 2 million dollars in interest over three years.”
Mr. King argued inflation would be worse but outline three options.
“One option is not to do it. Just keep on paying your high school debt and take the money as it comes in and spend it.”
“The second option is to go ahead and do the small bond issue that you’ve already voted, and you would be paying it along with the high school, and you have the revenue to do it.”
“The third option might be to do that, get a SPLOST renewal and do a bond issue. You’d have two bond issues, you’ve already approved a new one, and you would have a sizable amount of money to do as much as you can.”
He listed the advantage of doing nothing as having no debt.
Josh Drew also addressed the Board with information about livestock for the planned facility.
“Animal feeding, most time it’s a student parent contract.”
“If you are renting an animal from a producer, they might want it fed a certain diet. They may be willing to donate that food.”
Edward Jackson asked about coverage.
“Is there any type of insurance coverage for anything of this nature?”
Josh Drew responded.
“Most of the time it’s covered under extra circular sports. I don’t know how it falls under insurance policy, but FFA is an extracurricular activity.”
Carolyn Hamilton expressed concerns about transportation for students who had to come early to feed livestock or stay later.
The Board also heard further details about the cannery from architect Greg Smith. Carolyn Hamilton expressed concerns about the scope of the project. Mr. Smith mentioned that animal stalls could be added later, reducing the size, but that they would not have their current source of funding. Mr. Smith felt confident that the cannery could be reduced in size without sacrificing functionality.
Afterwards, The Board heard an update on the state of the middle school from Billy Thompkins.
Mr. Kearse expressed grave concerns about the school.
“That roof needs to be done now.”
“We have a five-year plan, but some of this stuff needs to be done right now.”
Carolyn Hamilton echoed similar concerns.
“The bleachers are dangerous.”
Mr. Barnes responded.
“We have to have a list.”
Ms. Hamilton countered.
“We did one.”
Mr. Thompkins mentioned that the issues were beyond his current ability to address.
“I don’t [have] the staff to do it.”
Mr. Barnes mentioned Mr. Thompkins needed to bring a new list with what needed to be done that was beyond the scope of Mr. Thompkins’ abilities.
ESEA funding was mentioned for refurnishing, but Mr. Knighton mentioned that ESEA funding couldn’t be used to refurnish all furniture at once.
The Board also heard the district STAR results for 1rst-12th grade for the month of August.
In reading, 47% were at beginning learner level, 40% were at developing learner level, 10% were at proficient learner level and 2% at distinguished learner level.
In math, 55% were at the beginning learner level, 32% were at the developing learner level, 11% were at the proficient learner level, and 2% were at the distinguished learner level.
Training for specific interventions with students who had specific gaps were discussed at length. Mr. Knighton talked about how the training would allow the teachers to address specific gaps in student learning.
The day-to-day operational general funds available balance was $5,656,997.74. For capital projects, there was a combined balance of $5,140,166.87 designated for emergency funds from the general fund account.
SPLOST Revenue for August was $501,150.00, which was the highest this year. The average monthly collection was $446,213.66. The financial reports were blended. End of balance as of August 31rst was $7,501,653.98.