SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF MEETING – 22 SEPTEMBER 2021 (unapproved)
Committee Members: Commissioners Stoney Jackson, Chairman; Brad Butler, Mike Cesarini, Erin Curry;, Rodney Journey, Judy Pruett, Joseph Sutton Other: County Executive Melissa Greene Other Commissioners: David Adams, Rose Brown, Bill Cary, Terry Harwell, Duane Jones, Gayle Jones, Tommy Pollard, Joyce Woodard, and Larry Worsham Other County: Beth Moore- Sumners and Nancy Griffin Financial Management; Dr. Vicki Beard Director of Schools , Knox Vanderpool- Chairman, and Joe Parker – Board of Education; Pulaski Citizen – Scott Stewart By video Steve Griffin, and Conner Duffy of Wold/HFR Architect and Engineering Design
Chairman Stoney Jackson opened the meeting with Tommy Pollard offering a prayer and leading the pledge. Minutes of 19 May 2021 were approved after a motion by Rodney Journey and seconded by Erin Curry.
First Agenda Item – Transfer of $2M from LI 141 General Purpose School Fund to LI178 Education Capital Projects #2. Handouts were provided showing Items to be upgraded, cost, and geographical layouts broken out by 3 Phases. Dr. Beard said total for all three phases would be $12, 737,510, with these three phases covering approximately 41.4% of total school population. She further noted that in general this cost would be for Pulaski ES, Bridgeforth MS, and Giles HS with additional work for Elkton ES, Minor Hill School, Richland ES, Richland School, Richland Vo-Tech, and Southside ES for $222K included in the overall cost of $12, 737,510 noted above. If the work was to be done in three phases, per Dr. Beard, it would be more efficient to consider all the work be done in one phase (at same price) so contractors could maintain some construction continuity as they work, rather than always moving from school to school. Stoney Jackson asked about the timeline for the combined phases and the answer given by Wold/HFR was 18 months from start date with a caveat depending on availability of material. Mike Cesarini asked about the payments and Beth answered probably installments based on percentage of completion. Stoney asked about the fund availability and Beth said currently have $6.3 M and with transfer requested of $2M, a total of $8.3M for capital projects. Mike asked if have to wait 18 months for air quality improvements and answer no could use some of funding for that if approved today. Springtime the expected time for bids would result in a start in Summer of 2022. David Adams asked what about other schools – how did you determine which schools to start with. Per Dr. Beard, we picked the oldest schools and those with safety, health hazards. Steve Griffin mentioned that the upgrades, also in this phase, in the additional schools will work toward better air quality. Knox Vanderpool said to do all that is required for all Giles County schools would cost approximately $90M in today’s costs. Bill Cary said longer we wait, the higher price tag. Stoney said the $12.7M is not the issue what with the $12.7M minus the $8.3M leaving and asking for $4.4M over and above the $2M transfer for the total cost of $12.7M. Stoney and then Beth Moore-Sumners discussed the over-collection from sales tax and from property tax, with the over-collection being above a budgeted number. That over-collection then is left as unbudgeted funds requiring Commission approval before moving those funds into a budgeted LI. However, to move funding for certain expenses of schools, e.g., pay raises, then Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requires that funding remain at least at that level. So, care in terms of funding from the over-collection must be carefully considered. Beth did say however that funding for teachers to make Giles a more competitive employer is being researched, with questions on how much should be done right now. In addition to the over-collection possibility, several other line items. i.e., LI 177 Education Capital Projects and LI 189 Other Capital Projects currently have funds that might be considered. Melissa Greene said we want to use county funding smartly, and that there are other areas besides the schools that must be considered. However, we can do the additional $4.4M without doing a bond issue at this time (had been considered). Per Beth we can use over-collections for both capital improvements and teacher pay.
A motion by Rodney Journey and seconded by Judy Pruett to move the $2M from LI 141to LI 178 was made. Gayle Jones asked about school enrollment and Dr. Beard said the schools were down 200 students. Since state direction did not allow virtual classes, many parents chose home schooling or private schools. Stoney Jackson called for a vote on the motion to move the $2M and the motion was approved.
Stoney asked about any energy savings based on the HVAC improvements. Steve Griffin said that he had not done that computation and would have to look at it. Stoney said would be good to have. Connor did mention the boilers in the schools which are 1940s/1950s technology. Now there would be full redundancy with controls allowing even use of each or both when required.
A motion by Brad Butler and seconded by Judy Pruett to send the $13M (earlier suggestion to round up rather than consider the rounded-up amount of $12M when actual requirement was $12,787,510) to the budget committee for their consideration and to work out a debt schedule between the county and the school. Mike commented that the commitment for $90M should be supported and that he appreciated the presentation actually having numbers to review. Bill Cary said unusual for him, but he didn’t think they asked for enough. When 2 years are up, then the cost for the other schools will go up. Dr. Beard noted that ongoing maintenance will continue but, per Bill Cary, still using maintenance on old equipment. Knox Vanderpool said they could come back relatively quick to show cost for rest of the schools. A call for the vote and the motion was approved.
Knox gave a review of the guidelines/restrictions placed on schools with the COVID uncertainty. For example, can isolate but can’t quarantine.
Rodney Journey moved and Judy Pruett seconded for adjournment. Motion approved.