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Long BoE approves budget, will not raise taxes
New school completion might depend on weather
Long County Board of Education Members
Long County School Board of Education members - photo by Denise Etheridge

Long County taxpayers got some good news Monday night. The board of education announced it would not increase the millage rate and so property taxes would not go up. The school board passed its fiscal year 2019 budget during its regular meeting, which followed the second of two required budget workshops.

The board adopted the proposed budget, sealing in the school’s estimated budget costs and revenue for the 2018-2019 school year. The estimated total revenue for the year stands at $41,669,270; coming from local taxes and other state and federal sources.

Total estimated expenditures of $46,762, 610 leaves a shortfall of about $5 million. However, the system’s projected fund balance of $9,289,834 would fill that budgetary hole, leaving an estimated $4,196,494 fund balance for June 30, 2019.

The budget included another three percent one-time annual salary payout for their teachers; making this the third consecutive year the board has been able to grant this payout. Long County School Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters also mentioned the district currently has five buses and one SPED bus on order for the upcoming school year.

The FY19 budget can be found on the Long County Board of Education’s website.

Shortly after the FY19 budget approval, the board discussed updates Waters gave concerning the construction of Long County Middle and McClelland Elementary schools.

“We’re behind schedule, but on schedule,” Waters said when describing the ongoing progress at the new school. As Aug. 1 inches closer, the construction manager continues to assure him and other school administrators that construction on the school will be finished on time, he said. The 215,000-square foot building is scheduled for completion by July 30 and 31, when open houses are scheduled. Waters admitted rain has been a major issue.

“Rain is a critical thing for us,” Waters said. “Will everything be perfect… probably not.” According to local weather forecasts, the rain isn’t set to stop. The week is calling for rain nearly every day until Sunday.

Waters also addressed paving on school grounds, informing board members that pavers will soon move to Hwy. 84 to finish the process. Windstream has pulled telephone lines to the school, and the internet is live and running throughout the building, the superintendent said. Painting is finished, tile is being laid and electricians are working around the clock, he told board members.

“It’s down to the wire,” Long County Middle School Principal Heath Crane said. “Crews are being brought in from everywhere.”

“Electrical got behind,” Waters said. “They had to wait on the crane operator to come from a project in Savannah that got behind because of weather.”

He said another major issue was the pump station electrical wiring did not match the wiring needed, so the pump station had to be reset.

Board member Marcus DeLoach pressed Waters, asking if the new school would be ready and safe for students by Aug. 1.

“If there comes a point where waiting is better, that decision will be made by this Friday,” Waters responded.

The board also touched on new requirements for student backpacks. A sheet with samples of acceptable backpacks can be found on the district’s website. Waters stressed that as long as the majority of the backpack is see through, it will be accepted.

“Clear or mesh bags,” Waters said. “We’re still feeling it out, but this is a good step to ensure safety.”

The board also approved hiring four teachers for the high school, three elementary school teachers and three Pre-K teachers.

The board approved hiring three professionals to the high school athletic staff: an athletic trainer, an assistant football /boys track coach and a head cross country coach.

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