Among the many items discussed at Tuesday night’s Tift County Board of Education work session were Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) projects and the school system’s projected revenue, expenditures and shortfall for FY 2014-15.
Robby Dasher, director of operations, informed the board that the property committee recently met and discussed several items. They went over the swim team, the pool and changes that the school system may be looking at making in the future. He mentioned cleaning up some property near Matt Wilson Elementary School that is a safety concern for students.
Also, Dasher said they talked to the city about closing a portion of Dorminey Street due to many Matt Wilson students crossing the street to go to the gymnasium each school day. The city has agreed to allow them to put gates (rolling or big swing gates) on that street. Only a portion of the street, in front of the gym, will be closed during the course of the school day to prevent traffic from coming through and it will be reopened once school is dismissed.
Dasher noted the gates will not close the street entirely. He said 17 1/2 Street, a side street off of Dorminey Street, will not be closed. The public will still have full access to 19th Street also. They’re not blocking anyone from their homes, Dasher added.
However, concerns the board had were after-hours events and parent pickup. Superintendent Patrick Atwater said it will be a challenge for those parents who arrive early for pickup. He said they won’t be able to allow parents on the campus for car rider lineup until a later time.
Chairwoman Kim Rutland suggested that they began communicating this information by putting it on their website so that it won’t be a surprise to anyone.
Furthermore, Dasher said renovations are in progress at Matt Wilson and will soon begin at Charles Spencer Elementary and Eighth Street Middle schools. He said ESMS needs a facelift with renovations, such as improving the lighting and painting to brighten up the hallways.
Rutland asked when it would be more feasible to build a new school. Dasher said the state helps with that. He explained when they put together their five-year facility plan and go into a school and look at the age and conditions of the building, the state has a formula and can make recommendations. It’s more cost effective to replace a school.
Atwater said the end decision rests with the local board of education whether they have the money to pay for another school. He said if the state doesn’t agree with that decision, they will not give any financial assistance.
Dasher said the property committee also discussed some system-wide security for school buildings — electronic access control. He talked about possibly using proximity cards and card readers on doors to help with missing keys.
He said the software is another way to make the schools, students and staff safer. Board member Rita Griffin said safety is important, adding the back entrances to the schools are her main concern, which need to be secure. Dasher said the door sensors would help with that, and would identify if a door is left open.
Dasher also said the school system would not be required to hire someone to monitor the software. The system is working toward it and looking at the cost at this time. He noted this upgrade in security will be paid for with SPLOST funds.
“We believe this is definitely something that we need to do to make it more secure,” he said.
In addition, Atwater mentioned the possibility of an off-site location for an alternative school for students who have been expelled and are not being accepted by a youth detention center. The board is working with the county to find a location. The county has two possible locations. Atwater said he’s still discussing these options with the county manager.
In unfinished business, Rutland said no one has expressed interest in serving on the board to fill the District 3 vacancy. The seat was held by former board member Gannon Hall, who had to step down due to him moving out of the district.
“We’re actively and diligently looking to replace the board vacancy in District 3,” Rutland said. “Anybody has any suggestions, please let us know.”
In new business, for FY 2014-15, Finance Director Klinton Guess said the school system is currently looking at a projected revenue of $52,751,712, projected expenditures of $57,356,024, and a projected shortfall of $4,604,312. He also discussed the state’s projection of a 1 percent raise, which he referred to as a bonus, because it would be a one-time bump. He noted next year, everyone will go back to where they were. If the governor approves, this would be a decision of the local board whether they would want to award it.
Atwater said if Quality Basic Education was fully funded, there would be no projected shortfall.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.