Superintendent Scott Cowart, along with Chief Financial Officer Greg Denney, recommended the board set the rate at 19.6, but board Chairman Dr. Jon Anderson proposed to the board giving taxpayers some relief.
“A lot of other systems in our area are raising taxes, it would be nice to be the system that lowers them,” he said.
District 2 member Sandra Morris made the motion for the 19.5 rate, and District 3’s Chris Gammon seconded her motion. In favor of the 19.5 rate were Morris, Gammon, Anderson and Cater. Opposed were Nixon and Pate. Dr. Bernice Brooks was not present at the meeting.
In his recommendation to the board, Cowart said the 19.6 rate was the exact recommendation from the state, with information from Denney on the property tax appeals the county expects.
“If we lost all the appeals, which is highly unlikely, we’d have to come up with $458,000, most likely from the fund equity, which is money we don’t have,” Denney said.
Anderson said adding $147,000 to the lost funds from appeals with the 19.5 rate would not be as bad a burden because he expects the board to balance the budget next year.
“This next year is the year we balance the budget,” he said. “Even if we give the taxpayers some relief.”
The board had several minutes of discussion on the necessity of forming a committee to name Central High School’s basketball court after the superintendent.
Maintenance coordinator Mike Beers presented a board resolution from Central High Principal Dana Harmon, saying the school would like to dedicate and name the newly refurbished basketball court to honor Cowart.
Reasons stated for Cowart’s potential dedication were that he is the most successful basketball coach in Central history, winning a state title.
All of the board members were in agreement that Cowart should have the honor, but some were wary of the procedures required to name any facility.
Cater said the policy states the dedications should be made “in memory” of someone, meaning only deceased figures should have facilities named after them. But he pointed out that the policy does allow special consideration to be made for “unique and unusual circumstances.”
Morris said she had trouble with voting on the name change now because, according to the policy, the Board of Education “shall establish a committee to evaluate the recommendation and report back to the Board of Education.”
“I love Scott, and it’s obviously nothing personal,” she said. “But since it says ‘shall,’ I don’t see a way to get around it.”
Cater agreed, saying not forming a committee could lead to trouble down the road.
“It’s about consistency and about who comes next,” he said. “We’ve got other buildings coming up that may be controversial, like in Villa Rica.”
Cater said he’d like to “give it some time” and gather public input before voting on the change.
The board voted 6-0 to permit Anderson to form a committee, which he said will have its findings prepared for next month’s meeting.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Stan Davis reported improved test scores to the board, saying new initiatives have made the difference.
“Our elementary schools are consistency scoring higher CRCT scores than the state in just about every area,” he said. “These new initiatives are making big differences.”
Davis said there’s improvement at more than just the elementary school level, though.
“Our high school End of Course Tests scores are increasing in 35 out of 40 areas,” he said.
Davis praised the scores, but said there is always room for improvement.
“I’m never going to be happy with just improvement,” he said. “No matter how well we do, we can do better.”
Denney presented the system’s June 2012 financial report, saying the system has received $1,087,000 in SPLOST receipts, an increase of more than $106,000 from June 2011.
The state has also increased its funding, Denney said, by 4.6 percent this month.
Assistant Superintendent of Administrative and Student Services Christie Johnson gave the board some information on the system’s new bus camera system, American Traffic Solutions’ StopArm system.
The program is on track to start using the bus arm cameras at the beginning of the school year, and is meant to ensure safety of students riding buses.
Johnson also asked Anderson to appoint members of the board to two committees: to review the electronic devices policy and to review a name change for Crossroads Academy, the system’s alternative school.
Anderson appointed members Cater and Askin-Pate to the electronic devices committee, and Morris to the name-change committee.