2011-12-01 / Front Page

BOE delays temporary millage rate; information on ’11 tax digest needed

By KIP BURKE
news editor

The Wilkes County Board of Education delayed approving a temporary millage rate for vehicle tags and mobile homes in last Monday night’s regular meeting, agreeing that they need more information.

In discussions led by Superintendent Dr. Rosemary Caddell, board members Chairman Ricky Callaway, Vice Chairman Andrew Jackson, Steve Albertson, and Dann Standard considered the possibility that the school board’s approval of a temporary millage rate for tags and trailers might interfere with passing a temporary millage rate for property taxes at a later date.

Although the Wilkes County Commission approved that temporary millage rate last week, Callaway said, he wasn’t sure the board should do the same. “We still don’t know when the digest is going to be coming in,” he said. “We need to make sure that passing this temporary millage rate would not preclude us from doing the same thing if the tax digest is late.”

There was extensive discussion on how late the tax digest might be this year, and whether the school system has enough cash and income to make it through until whenever in the spring of 2012 these tax bills would start to be paid.

The board chose to table the action until those questions could be answered.

The meeting opened with discussion over a resolution to refinance school general obligation bonds. Board members discussed with a representative from bond underwriter Merchants Capital the timeline for having the bond issue rated and prepared for the market, and the timing for offering the bonds for sale based on the state of the market. The board voted to move forward with the bond refinance process.

At Superintendent Caddell’s request, the board responded quickly to a need for an additional teacher for the fifth grade. Fifth-grade enrollment is about 20 students over expectations, she said, and the results of having too many students per teacher was notable in the first nine-week grading period. When only two fifth-graders made the Honor Roll, and 30 were failing subjects, she said, “we realized that groups were too large, with 25 or 26 kids in classes. We needed fewer students in classes, especially in reading and math.”

The fifth grade, she said, is the last year we can do a major intervention. “This is a critical need for an additional teacher,” she said. “It is a 911-emergency situation, and we don’t want to wait.”

After discussion, the board agreed to add an EIP intervention teaching position, which has funding available. To be hired by January, the teacher will work with the literacy coach and the curriculum director to help the most critical fifth-grade students.

In other actions, the board approved the adoption of the system’s Online Policy Manual, and approved the purchase of two new school buses. The two buses, bought from Yancy Power Systems, were purchased largely with state funds.

Board members tabled for more information a request to fund the rebuilding of a school bus engine.

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