Board of Education holds Primary School Recognitions and Vote for 5.5 million Ag Barn on September 14th

Published 8:55 am Monday, September 18, 2023

Superintendent Knighton gave the dashboard report for the month of August.
The splost collection was $501,150.02, the Georgia Power Bill $35,686.19, the Sumter EMC bill was $45,693.29, the water and sewer and sanitation bill was $14,026.82, the City of Americus Energy Bill was $5,193.32, and the cell phone bill for the month August was $2,175.38.
The millage rate was 18.069 with 1 mill generating $734,613 for Sumter County. Mr. Knighton gave the budget as a little over $45 million.
Primary School Special Recognitions recipients were as follows:
For custodian, Mr. Corey Richardson, for nutrition, Mrs. Lovie Foster, for paraprofessional, Mrs. Edna Dunning, for staff, Mrs. Diane Monts, for student, Ms. Egypt Yarbrough, and for teacher, Mrs. Emily Waters.
Afterwards, Mr. Knighton presented a poll of 104 students.
“Are you interested in livestock animal agriculture?”
71.2% said yes, 28.1% no.
If you are interested in the livestock program, would you be willing to participate in the program if animals are housed at the high school property?
62.5% of students said yes, 37.5% no.
Would you or your parent be interested in renting or leasing the animal or the animal purchasing outright?
67.3% indicated rent/lease must return the animal to producer, 32.7% purchase must be sold at the market or slaughter.
Mr. Kearse asked a question.
“How would they know their parents would participate in renting or leasing?”
Mr. Knighton stated only the students were polled.
Mr. Kearse asked about how the board can move forward with the current plans calling for a facility beyond the allotted 5.5 million.
Mr. Knighton responded.
“We already have determined that the maximum is 5.5. What we are going to have to do is work down and work through the facility project, coordinating with staff to get within that 5.5.”
Mr. Kearse expressed concerns that the removals be approved by the board.
“Mr. Barnes might not want this taken out. Miss Hamilton might not want this taken out, I might what to add this or take this out. I know we are time crunched. I at least want to have a little say so if we are spending 5.5 million dollars on what’s taken out and what’s put in.”
Mr. Barnes made a motion.
“Madame chair I would like to make a motion we approve the Ag Multipurpose Cannery project for a maximum price of $5.5 million dollars.”
“I move forward that the maximum price be governed by the board as well as Mr. Smith architect.”
The chair clarified that 5.5 million was the maximum available ESEA funds.
Miss Bibbins seconded the motion.
Edward Jackson had questions about the day-to-day operation.
Mr. Knighton responded.
“With the insurance it will be just like any other facility piece. Just like with any other extracurricular activity there is insurance components for those individuals who will participate.”
“We already have the personal in place to carry out all that needs to be done.”
Mr. Kearse asked about the timeline.
“We are already a month and a half behind. We need to have some decision this evening.”
Carolyn Hamilton expressed concerns.
“I love the cannery, but I’m thinking about the burden that it’s going to put on our families who are already financially strapped. To participate in this extracurricular activity is a seven day a week, twice a day commitment like no other extracurricular activity, which puts transportation costs, costs to feed the animal, costs to take care of it, costs to even get the animal, that puts a large burden a community of children and parents, the vast majority of whom are below the poverty level.”
Ms. Sylvia Roland mentioned shows involving other schools could help raise funds.
Mr. Knighton told a story about a student at his university, Dr. Ferguson, who had become a veterinarian and who had a show with another veterinarian called Critter Fixers.
“When he was in school, he had an opportunity with individuals who came and shared what was available in the agricultural arena. At that moment he decided to get into and become a veterinarian.”
“A lot of times students don’t get an opportunity to know what they like because they never have an opportunity to be exposed to experiencing things that go beyond their current circumstances.”
The project was approved at $5.5 million with five in favor and Mr. Jackson and Ms. Hamilton abstaining.