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BOE talks SPLOST vote, start of new school year

POSTED: August 7, 2014 1:03 p.m.

The Barrow County School Board is already being prepped for the upcoming Special Local Option Sales Tax vote.

At Tuesday's board meeting board members received a positive forecast on sales tax growth as well as some stipulations as to what they are allowed to do and say ahead of the November vote, which would renew the one percent SPLOST past the current September 2016 expiration date.

Barrow Executive Director of Business services Chris Griner told the board at Tuesday's meeting that, if the current trend of increasing SPLOST receipts grows, that the system should see around a six percent growth going forward. That would have a big impact on the amount of sales tax the system could collect in the upcoming five year period – if that trend continues.

Regardless, board members have agreed on the necessity of the upcoming SPLOST vote, especially because a large number of those funds will go toward prior debts that have to be paid.

The district’s financial advisor, Tom Owens from Raymond James Financial, was back at the meeting once again to give board members and administrators a quick overview of what they can and cannot do in regards to the vote according to state law.

For employees:

"Anytime someone is on the clock at the district," he said, "They cannot do anything to promote sales tax."

Board members have slightly different rules. They can support a group forming to support the sales tax – Owens said he had heard one was already forming and would soon be in contact with them – but cannot give any preferential treatment to that group over one formed to oppose the sales tax.

He also noted that administrators, while in staff meetings, can inform their teachers as to what the SPLOST funds would enable the school to purchase or build (the primary goal for the new SPLOST, along with new bonds, is the building of two new schools), but they cannot urge teachers to vote in a certain way.

 

Start of school

Barrow Superintendent Chris McMichael and others all mentioned during the meeting how smoothly the school year had started.

"This has been an incredibly smooth start," McMichael said. "Transportation was getting students to school, and at Sims, the teachers were teaching on day one."

Enrollment for the first day actually dipped a bit from the first day the year before – 12,682 from 12,783 – but it’s far too early to tell much from the numbers at this point. The system will continue to count students throughout the year, and the official count later in the fall will be the most important one, as it establishes the district’s Full Time Equivalency number.

 

Consent agenda

The board unanimously approved slight updates to the code of conduct and the adoption of revised student discipline and student conduct policies, which will include the use of a hearing officer instead of a tribunal in most cases where the prior would have been used.

 

Personnel report

The board approved the hiring of five teachers, including three Spanish teachers to fill newly created positions that the board approved over the summer.

 

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