The Liberty County Board of Education approved five items, including a construction bid, job descriptions and a redistricting revision, with no discussion during its Tuesday meeting.
The meeting’s tone was contrary to most of the board’s recent meetings, where staff and construction consultants summarized the issues and entertained questions and discussion from the board before the board votes.
According to an information packet provided to the Courier at the meeting, the board took the following actions:
• approved a $258,222.74 bid from Statesboro-based Ellis Wood Contracting for the Liberty County High School entrance and parking lot work
• approved a guaranteed maximum price of $13.9 million for phase four, step two renovations to Bradwell Institute. This phase will address the school’s science, business and agricultural science renovations, and the anticipated amount budgeted for this work is $14.5 million.
• tabled a request to rank energy consultant firms. The staff request was to move into contract negotiations for a district-wide assessment to begin with the No. 1 applicant, Heery International; Nextera Energy Solutions and Georgia Power were ranked second and third.
• approved a revision to the previously approved county redistricting plan that moves a Census-block of 20 voters from District 5 into District 6. Both the BoE and county commission were required to approve the change so reapportionment can move forward
• approved job descriptions for Liberty College and Career Academy director of high school programs, business community coordinator and administrative assistant, as well as creation of two custodian positions for the site
• approved a three out-of-state travel requests for staff members to attend training conferences on administration, software and produce operations
Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services, spoke about the district’s Impact Aid application, which was filed Jan. 26 with a rate of 43.84 percent federally connected students.
“Even though our percentage actually went up a little bit over the prior year, we expect the pot of money to be a little bit smaller …,” Rogers said. “So we probably won’t get quite as much money as we did this year.”
This year, LCSS received $10,184,377.48 based on federally connected enrollment of 42.33 percent.
“We have been told the trend is, more students are being counted in the program nationwide,” he said after the meeting. “However, the total allocation for the program has not been increased to account for this influx of participants.”
Rogers anticipates the board will receive between $8.8 and $9.2 million, but the allotments will not be determined until Congress adopts the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent for student services, spoke about the system-wide fifth-month enrollment count, which is down 341 from this time last year.
“I sort of look at where the last 300 students went to see if I could see a pattern,” Alexander said. “There’s not really a pattern there; most of them went out of state or out of the country … so there doesn’t really seem to be a trend, or an explanation.”
“As we project for next year, and as we look at funding for next year, that’s a significant number to be down,” Scherer said. Enrollment at nine of the district’s 14 schools is down, but it is up at the pre-K center, Liberty Elementary, Joseph Martin Elementary, Taylors Creek Elementary and Midway Middle, according to a memo from Alexander.
“I think we’re seeing a trend all over the state,” Chairwoman Lily Baker said. “I think at this conference on Saturday, there will be some conversation with other school systems as well.”
The board also briefly discussed a state constitutional amendment, House Bill 1162, which would allow the state to establish charter schools without consulting local school districts.
The Associated Press reports the amendment is an ongoing battle between House Republicans and Democrats, and a committee now is considering amendment revisions in the hopes of appeasing Democrats who voted against it last week.
According to Georgia Politico online, the bill was voted down 110-62 on Feb. 8.
Board member Becky Carter said she wanted to thank Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, for voting and speaking against the bill.
“I don’t think anyone objects to charter schools, (but) the process they’re going through, it’s going to impact public schools,” member Carol Guyett said. She added that other area representatives need to be pressured to ensure local school districts are protected.
The board then adjourned to move into executive session to discuss personnel.
After the meeting, Baker explained why there was no discussion on the action items.
“We’re trying to change things a little bit,” Baker said. “I’ve been reminded in training that your meetings should stay within an hour and a half, so I’m trying to comply. … We all are. We all are going to ask questions before, so we get it clear.”