At its meeting this week, the Long County Board of Education heard concerns over the proposed Townsend Bombing Range expansion and news about record enrollment.
Local landowner Roger Houston, who is a member of the Stop the Townsend Bombing Range Expansion committee, voiced his opposition to the plan at the meeting. According to Houston, if the expansion takes place, the financial implications from the land acquisition would be devastating to the county. Houston believes the devastation could be so bad that, due to high taxes needed to fund operations, the county might not be able to continue to exist and could mean Long County will be annexed into neighboring counties.
Houston also said that if the expansion is approved, it is his understanding that military planes could fly fewer than 100 feet above the ground, and that during some of the training missions, a portion of Highway 57 running between Ludowici and Townsend could be shut down, causing difficulties for travelers.
Board members voiced concerns over the expansion. Chairman Dempsey Golden volunteered to represent the board on the committee opposing the expansion.
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters told the board that there was a record enrollment reported for the school system, with 156 more students already registered for this year compared with last year. Total enrollment in the system is 2,858 students for 2012-13.
Smiley Elementary School Principal David Edwards said the elementary school’s enrollment is 1,092 and that the kindergarten classes were at max capacity.
Walker Middle School Principal Heath Crane reported the middle school’s enrollment is 1,054, and that more than 712 visitors participated in the school’s open house. Long County High School Principal Scotty Hattaway said high-school enrollment is 623.
In other business:
• High-school teacher Christi Crews received a plaque for being the 2012 system teacher of the year.
• Finance officer Bridget Welch said she had received a check for $2.9 million from brigade remediation funds. The money will offset costs associated with the new high school.
• The board unanimously approved the BoE training plan.
• The board commended all school-system staff for the budget being 2 percent lower than expected for fiscal year 2012.
• The board commended Optim Healthcare for partnering with the school system and providing care to students.
• Erica Harris was approved as head high-school cross-country coach, while Jerry Murray was approved as golf head coach.