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School Committee Meeting Minutes – January 12, 2024 (Approved)

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12 JANUARY 2024


Chairman Shelly Goolsby opened the meeting asking Commissioner Matt Rubelsky to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The minutes of 12 December 2023 were moved for approval by Commissioner Erin Curry and seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins.  The minutes were approved unanimously.


County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe was asked if he had any announcements.  He mentioned the pending weather and the upcoming meeting(s) with the consensus being the CE would use his judgement to declare any changes needed.


A handout was provided showing proposed amendments.  Financial Management Director Beth Moore-Sumners addressed Amendment to the General-Purpose School Fund 141 account.  She noted the amendment had been approved by the School Board and was: 1) movement within the school’s fund balance for transportation and for a salary supplement for archery, 2) contracted services for instruction and 3) a security grant, for a total of $841,608.29.  Commissioner Terry Jones moved for approval and Commissioner Erin Curry provided the second.  Commissioner Evan Baddour asked for clarification on the contracted services with Superintendent of Schools Vicki Beard stating the effort was for a teacher to address behavior issues and was advertised.  No applicants were received but an existing employee was chosen who did not want to work fulltime, but would do 15 hours per week.  The amendment addressed moving the funding from the salary line to a contracted line.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins questioned why the $665K for transportation was not already included in the beginning budgeting process, noting the perceived appearance of lack of planning.  Several explanations were provided as to why this was budgeted in this manner.  School Board Chairman Knox Vanderpool explained that part of the requirement could only be addressed when the full need was identified (e.g., added two special need buses).  The Financial Manager explained that part of this process is dependent on the potential over collection on property taxes and to do at the beginning of the budget process could mean raising the schools’  Maintenance of Effort (MoE) funding.  That funding generally remains in effect in perpetuity which would not fit the needs of the school on as needed basis.  Commissioner Terry Jones mentioned the possibility of using diesel buses which would last longer but would need a change to state requirements.  He suggested the CE get with the county’s state representative to discuss.  After other discussion about lifetime of buses, and additional discussions on the budgeting process, the motion was approved unanimously.


The second amendment was also on the General Purpose School Fund 141 for the CTE and for Transportation – Insurance Recovery.  The Financial Manager stated this amendment does not use the fund balance, covers a grant, and was approved at the school board meeting.  A motion by Commissioner Terry Jones to approve for $40,513, seconded by Commissioner Erin Curry was made and was unanimously approved.


The next area of discussion was a proposed resolution to pursue a bond for 10 years to finance the needed improvements to Bridgeforth.  The expected interest rate would be 5.39% and the school would service the note.  A motion to approve was made by Commissioner Erin Curry and was seconded by Commissioner Joseph Sutton to pursue the bond.  The amount of the construction agreement is $8.7M, under a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contract with Brindley Construction.   Obtaining such a bond would also require state approval, which also includes lead time.  This approach has been discussed with CTAS and a local bank.  Commissioner Wamble asked about the interest rate, and Knox Vanderpool said the rate could be renegotiated after five years.  The Financial Manager stated the county is not agreeing to any of the specifics of this bond at this time, only asking for approval to pursue a bond.  Commissioner Evan Baddour asked about the timing of bringing this before the January full commission, understanding the February date was a deadline.  The CE said discussions had only begun in December, which is a difficult month due to holidays, and mentioned the challenge of having bond particulars approved before the early-February deadline.  Commissioner Terry Jones asked about paying as you go (using cash flow availability), rather than a bond issue, since he could foresee the interest going down.  The Financial Manager provided the information that the funding must be in the specific account before the GMP contractor can officially begin.  Questions and discussions arose over:  when would effort start; could you do more than one school at a time (given other schools still being worked); can some preliminary approvals such as a letter of intent be used so that long lead time items can be ordered; mention of the other school’s needs such as Pulaski Elementary; discussion on GMP contractor bidding separately on individual schools; have “kicked this can down the road and now find ourselves with a significant funding needed at this time”; cost increases on material if wait or delay; concern with addressing dollars over students; could pay off bond sooner with no early payment penalty.  A role call vote was taken with six members voting yes and one member voting no (Commissioner Mathew Hopkins).  Motion passed.


Any old business – none


New Business – A handout was provided addressing a copier agreement which would be a 5-year agreement and the CTE grant.  A motion to approve the copier agreement was provided by Commissioner David Adams, seconded by Commissioner Erin Curry and was approved unanimously.  The CTE grant was moved for approval by Commissioner David Adams seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones and was approved unanimously.


Motion to adjourn was made by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, seconded by Commissioner Joseph Sutton and was approved unanimously.


Commissioner Matt Rubelsky moved for adjournment and with Commissioner Joseph Sutton providing the second, the meeting was adjourned unanimously.


ATTENDEES:  Members of the Committee – Chair Commissioner Shelly Goolsby, Commissioners Terry Jones , David Adams, Matthew Hopkins for Caleb Savage (absent), Matt Rubelsky , Joseph Sutton, and Erin Curry     Other Commissioners in attendance:  Evan Baddour, Rose Brown, Brad Butler, Judy Pruett, Tracy Wilburn, David Wamble, Gayle Jones, Joyce Woodard, Dr. James Lathrop, Roger Reedy, Tim Risner Other Attendees:  County Executive Graham Stowe, Financial Management Director Beth Moore-Sumners, and Shanna Woodard,   School Superintendent Dr. Vicki Beard, Assistant Director of Schools Tommy Hunter, Bridgeforth Middle School Principal Lori Herd, School Board Chairman Knox Vanderpool, Trustee Tony Risner Public:  Ronnie Brindley, Bryan Brindley,