2005-09-15 / Front Page

Board discusses statewide sales tax to fund education

A proposal to use a three-percent state sales tax to fund education was under discussion at the regular meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Education held Tuesday, September 6.

According to School Superintendent Randall Edmunds, “The House Education Funding Study Committee is holding public hearings across the state to determine whether all local property taxes levied for education purposes should be replaced with an additional threepercent statewide sales tax. This would mean that all funding would take place at the state level.”

Plans are for the funds to be distributed to school systems on an FTE (Full-Time Equivalent student) basis.

There are arguments both for and against the proposal.

“The tax would hurt the elderly and others on fixed incomes, but it would help property owners. Some of the Atlanta school systems are against it because they would have to help support schools in rural areas,” said Dr. Edmunds.

He went on to state that both the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) are opposed to the proposal. “They feel local boards of education should have some ability to fund education at the local level. All of the funding for education should not be statecontrolled.”

The issue of whether the state will designate all or a portion of the tax monies has yet to be addressed.

In other comments, the superintendent indicated that he would support a modified version of the plan. “I think the General Assembly should look at levying two cents on the dollar and putting a lower cap on the millage rate. This way, boards of education will have local funds to place in areas where it will do the most good.”

If the tax is approved by the General Assembly, the issue will be decided by a statewide referendum.

In other business, Dr. Edmunds informed the board that the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has released the final region alignments for 2006-2008. Lincoln County will be in Region 7-B with Aquinas High School, Glascock County, Johnson County, Taliaferro County, and Warren County. Region 7-A will be comprised of the Georgia Academy for the Blind, Georgia Military Academy, Hancock Central High School, Monticello High School, Twiggs County, and Wilkinson County.

Moreover, arch-rival WashingtonWilkes will move up to Class AA.

In related items of information, Superintendent Edmunds said the GHSA will not allow football practice to begin until August 7 to cut down on the amount of time spent practicing and playing in extreme heat. “This will push the state championship games back to December 15 and 16.”

Regarding the championship games, the GHSA has ruled that these will be played on neutral territory thereby eliminating the home field advantage and the problems associated with schools that do not have adequate seating in their stadiums.

In further business, Dr. Edmunds informed the board that LCES, LCMS, and LCHS as well as the system were “Accredited With Quality” for the 2005-2006 school year by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, Inc.

Also during the meeting, the board:

Was informed by the superintendent that the system will be accepting students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The usual paperwork such as birth certificates and immunization records will not be needed to enroll in Lincoln County Schools.

“The state says we have to accept these students; perhaps it will help us with funding later on,” said Dr. Edmunds. “It’s a bad situation. The many relief efforts underway are desperately needed.”

A handout distributed to the board by Edmunds contained the following statement made by State School Superintendent Kathy Cox: “Let me be clear: These children will be educated while they are here in Georgia. It is the right thing to do. We realize this will present a challenge to some of our local school systems. But it is nothing compared to the hardship that these poor families are going through right now. As these victims piece their lives back together, I want them to know that Georgia welcomes them into our hearts and our homes and welcomes their children into our schools.”

In an interview on Monday, September 12, Dr. Edmunds indicated that one student from Mississippi has been enrolled at LCES.

First readings were held for proposed revisions to the Discipline Policy, the Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) Policy, and the Use of School Facilities Policy. The latter policy was revised to prohibit any form of tobacco use on school property with the exception of the designated area at Buddy Bufford Field.

Was informed by Dr. Edmunds that as of the end of August, the school system had an enrollment of 1,403 students — 597 at LCES, 340 at LCMS, and 466 at LCHS. At the end of school last year, the system-wide enrollment was 1,368 — 494 at LCES, 351 at LCMS, and 422 at LCHS.

In addition, eight students were enrolled in the alternative school at the beginning of the current school year.

Was informed by the superintendent that Lincoln County has been selected to participate in the Focused Monitoring for Georgia’s Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process for the FY 2006 school year. Systems chosen for the review are those in the lowest quartile for each enrollment size and with the greatest gap in math scores between students with and without disabilities.

Held first readings for the proposed deletion of the following policies: Post Secondary Options, Teacher Aide, and Teacher Aide Evaluation.

Reviewed the following policies: Safety, Testing for Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, Working Conditions, Time Schedules, Employee Workload, Professional Personnel Ethics, Paraprofessional, Evaluation of Paraprofessional, Bus Driver, Evaluation of Bus Driver, Eye Protection, and Transfer of Students Records. No changes were made to the policies.

Reviewed the quarterly financial reports for LCES and LCMS/LCHS for the period ending June 30, 2005; the General Fund Report for the period from July 1, 2005, through August 31, 2005; and the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) Report through August 31, 2005.

Concerning the SPLOST Fund, Dr. Edmunds noted that sales in the county are up from last year and appear to have held steady, at least during the summer months.

It was also pointed out that the tax digest will contain an additional $18.5 million generated by growth and reassessments.

“Maybe we could cut the proposed millage rate from three mills to two,” said Board Member Marcy Remsen. “An individual’s property won’t have as much millage against it, and not everybody will have to pay as much tax.”

Voted to approve a request from the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce to use the parking lots at LCHS as staging areas for the annual Lincolnton Holiday Parade set for November 19.

Voted to approve requests for fundraising activities made by LCES, LCMS, and LCHS.

Voted to approve requests for overnight field trips for various groups at LCMS and LCHS. The board’s approval was contingent upon the availability of fuel and funds.

Voted to enter into executive session to deliberate upon the employment of personnel. Upon returning to regular session, the board:

Voted to approve Barbara Boddie for a teaching position at LCES for the 2005-2006 school year.

Voted to approve the following as substitute teachers: Harold Aaron, Tamara Abel, Donna Aycock, Glenda Bailey, April Crook, Jessica Elam, Isabel Garrett, Donna Kirkland, Rhonda Leverett, Regina Norman, Jeffrey Pendry, Nicole Phillips, Gyvonne Pinkston, Martha Pitts, Penny Quinn, Colbi Reed, Tina Sample, Thomas Schulte, Christina Smalley, and Shannon Thomason.

Voted to approve the following to serve as substitute school food service workers, pending their meeting all qualifications of the board: Kimberly Adams, Glenda Bailey, Inez Hall, Doris Hunter, and Lynn Stanton.

Taffenie Jones was approved to serve as a substitute bus driver provided that all state and local requirements are met.

Voted to authorize the expenditure of funds for an interpreter for a disabled student.

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