The Long County School System will have new bus routes for the upcoming school year, according to Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters. On Monday, Waters told the board of education that the idea of changing the bus routes first was looked into approximately seven months ago. He said that at that time, a consultant was hired to look at the current routes, increased growth and roads in the county, and then bring back possible alternatives. New routes were prepared and the changes should make the buses more effective on their routes, he said, and it also should be more convenient for those parents who take their kids to bus pick-up and drop-off points.
A big plus with the new routes, Waters added, will be that elementary- and middle-school kids will not be riding on the same buses as high-school students. There will be nine buses for the high-school students and 18 for younger students.
However, Waters said that even though the new routes will be more effective, there will be some glitches to work through. He said there will be a public meeting to answer questions on the routes at 6 p.m. next Monday, July 29, at Long County Middle School (the old high school) in the cafeteria.
“We’re going to have to work out all of the bugs early, but as time goes on it will get better and better,” Waters said.
Also Monday, the BoE heard a report from finance officer Bridget Welch regarding the sales-ratio study that was conducted on the county tax assessor’s office and the final proposed budget. Welch said the study, which was done by the Georgia Department of Audits, reviews whether the county is accessing real-estate values accurately. She said that the goal is to have a 40 percent actual tax value and that the county office was audited at a 40.05 percent rate. Welch said this was almost a perfect audit and praised Chief Tax Assessor Beverly Johnson and her office for doing such a good job.
Welch also said there were only two adjustments made to last month’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. An additional fee of $72,000 for books needed to be added, as was a $15,000 deduction for the closing of the day care.
She also said figures in the budget were conservative, always trying to look at the year with a “worst-case scenario” in mind. According to Welch, this year’s total budget for expenditures in the general fund was $20,007,203. The board unanimously passed the advertising of the proposed budget.
The BoE also unanimously approved hiring Dianna Partin, April Sikes, Charlene Brown and Shelby Wells as teachers for the upcoming year. Katelan Brannen was hired as a teacher, with all members of the board voting in favor, except Dr. Carolyn Williamson, who abstained from the vote due to being related to Brannen.
Also hired unanimously were Adam Rozier as a custodian, Marriell McClain as a paraprofessional and Tammy Smith as a receptionist.
A request was made to the board to transfer instructional coach Darrell Mosley to Long County Middle School as an assistant principal, but the transfer failed, with Julie Dawson and Vice Chair Florence Baggs voting in favor, while board members Williamson, Marcus DeLoach and Chairman Janet Watford voting against. Instructional coach Debbie Wingate was transferred to the middle school as an assistant principal by a vote of 4-1, with Baggs being the lone dissenter.
“We put her in this same position last year. I voted in favor of her then, but she asked to step down from the assistant principal job a couple of weeks later because she did not like disciplining kids,” Baggs said. “There were others who put in for the job this time, and I believe that they should have been considered for it first.”