Finance decisions dominate BOE’s July Meeting

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ELLIJAY, GA. – Casting the final vote for the coming ESPLOST, alongside votes on bids and lunch prices, set the theme for the Board of Education’s last regular meeting before school starts back.

As previously reported in last week’s BOE to call for an ESPLOST Election, the survey results were provided to board member along with the choices for the final item on the list of projects. While Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs reiterated that the priorities of the new ESPLOST will remain with the continuing technology, security, safety, and bus purchases, this sets two major projects into Gilmer County’s Educational future.

Those projects take up two of the five items as set on the official ballot question which reads as:

(a) upgrading the technology used to support teaching and learning at all facilities, including the purchase and
installation of computers, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, servers, wiring, wireless antennas, and other technology upgrades with necessary hardware, software, and programs; (b) the acquisition, construction, equipping, and installation of safety and security equipment to improve security in all facilities located within the School District (c) the purchase of new school buses; (d) the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new elementaryschool to replace the current Ellijay Primary School; and (e) the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new performing/fine arts center, all in accordance with the facilities plans of the School District…

The official resolution was approved in a 4-1 vote with board member Nick Weaver as the dissenting vote. With earlier disagreements on which final project was to be implemented and the polled decision leaning towards the Performing Arts Center, this vote count was not entirely unexpected as the board’s poll on the project inclusion was a mirror outcome.

Moving forward with the ESPLOST at this point will see the Board of Education formally submitting their Notice of Sales and Use Tax For Educational Purposes Election to Gilmer County Probate Judge Scott Chastain, as Election Superintendent, to have the referendum voted on by the public in the November 2018 elections. Citizens will take this opportunity to voice their opinions on the ESPLOST and decide on the continuing the already in place ESPLOST for another cycle with its new projects.

Financially, the board is estimating $28 million in collections but is aiming high so as not to have an interruption in collections during the cycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finance discussions continued through the meeting during the board’s nutrition and financial reports. The board voted unanimously to support a recommendation by Director of Nutrition Services Linda Waters to increase staff lunch prices from $3.50 to $3.75 and visitor lunches from $4.00 to $4.25. The quarter increases on each of these follow federal regulations which Waters’ recent changes to menus. She stated in the work session, “By Federal Regulations, we have to charge what it costs us to produce a meal.”

Additionally, the July meeting saw the board vote to approve fuel bids for the year. They awarded Petroleum Traders Corp the bid for diesel and gasoline at $0.0315 over costs of diesel and $0.0196 over costs of gasoline. They also awarded Thomas Oil for Propane at $0.95 per gallon.

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ESPLOST Survey results in clear winner

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – With almost 2,000 people responding to their ESPLOST Survey, the Gilmer County Board of Education released the results at their June Meeting.

The choices include a Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS Campus), a Multi-use Sports Facility (Gym, Weight Rooms, wrestling center, batting cages, track), or an Indoor Swimming Pool.

Collecting more votes than the other two options combined, the Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS Campus) reached 1,069 votes.

Multi-use Sports Facility collected 684 votes and the Indoor Swimming Pool collected 282 votes.

Though seen as a somewhat surprising result according to Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, she encouraged the Board to bear the survey’s results in mind as the moved forward with preparations for the ESPLOST referendum. While it is likely this vote will be seen as early as this November on the ballot, the ESPLOST cycle would not take effect until 2020. With the five-year cycles, the Board is attempting to plan several years ahead as they or only now at the midpoint of the current cycle.

While this may seem far off, officials say it is imperative to begin preparations now so that the voting, investigations, and preparations are in place when the 2020 cycle begins to move forward with the work as quickly as possible.

This does mean, however, that as the Board contemplates their survey, if they move forward with the Performing Arts center included as it seems they will, there are currently no plans setting when they will begin the project within the five-year cycle.

The project would stand next to others like the construction of a new Elementary School at the Board’s Clear Creek Property to replace the aging Ellijay Primary School currently in town on McCutchen Street.

Check out the Survey Results for the full tally and comments.

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Gilmer ARTS endorses Arts Center in ESPLOST survey

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer ARTS program has weighed in on an ongoing survey from the Gilmer County Charter School System.

The survey is for options on an upcoming Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) cycle starting in 2020. As FetchYourNews previously reported in “BOE asks for citizen input on 2020 ESPLOST,” the options include a performing/fine arts center (on the Gilmer High School campus), a multi-use sports facility (gym, weight rooms, wrestling center, batting cages, track), or an indoor swimming pool. There is also an option for citizens to forego these options and write in their own suggestion in an “other” box.

Now, Gilmer ARTS has endorsed the option for a Performing Arts Center noting, “The options included a much overdue and badly needed performing arts center. Gilmer is far behind our neighbors in Fannin to the north and Pickens to the south. Both counties have wonderful performing arts facilities that enhance the performances of not only school system student programs but also community use for concerts and events.”

Gilmer ARTS also noted their partnership agreement with the school system and the hard work that the students have put in for some of the most successful programs in the high school. In their official release, Gilmer ARTS stated, “We have competition-winning programs in our schools with art, instrumental and choral music and have had for many years (Champions if you will).”

With little time left for the survey, the release asks for all citizens to either follow the Survey link or log on to the Gilmer Schools website and click the survey link at the top of the page, so they can offer their voice and vote on the possible options.

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BOE asks for citizen input on 2020 ESPLOST

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education is almost halfway through its current ESPLOST plan completing projects like the renovations on Huff Mosley Stadium, building a new Agriculture Education center, and the current renovations to Gilmer High School.

However, anticipating the process needed to prepare for continuing the ESPLOST after this one ends in 2020, the board is already moving into discussions for that next cycle. As a part of that process for ESPLOST, the board must have planned projects they intend to use the money for.

In that discussion, Gilmer County Charter Schools System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has turned to the citizens by placing a survey on their website. The board already has certain plans for projects to continue to upgrade technology, improve safety measures, purchase buses, and build an elementary school to replace Ellijay Primary.

However, the survey itself is intended to add more to the list with citizen input on three additional suggestions for the ESPLOST cycle. The choices include a Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS Campus), a Multi-use Sports Facility (Gym, Weight Rooms, wrestling center, batting cages, track), or an Indoor Swimming Pool. There is also an option for citizens to forego these otpions and write in their own suggestion in an “other” box.

Citizens can either follow the Survey link or log on to the Gilmer Schools website and click the survey link at the top of the page to offer their opinion as well as speaking at the next meeting of the Board of Education.

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Upward Bound Project Celebrated in Public Conference

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ELLIJAY, GA – Offering low income first generation students a path to college access after high school graduation through additional services, the Upward Bound Grant was celebrated with members from both the Gilmer County Board of Education and the University of North Georgia.

Beginning Sept 1, 2017, the program will see two full time staff members at Gilmer High School in addition to extra resources and support for the selected students who participate. While the Grant was previously approved, see “Upward Bound Grant Confirmed for Gilmer Schools,” the press conference held on July 27 was the first official public meeting of the two entities celebrating the new partnership in Gilmer County.

Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes opened the meeting saying, “With the Gilmer County Upward Bound Project being the only one of its kind in this area of the state, I am so excited that we’re able to partner with University of North Georgia to offer support for post secondary opportunities to our students.”

The Federal Grant supporting this program equals $257,000 a year. University of North Georgia (UNG) President Dr. Bonita Jacobs commented on the yearly grant to assure citizens, “”We anticipate being here for five years, and it will make a difference… I am extremely excited about this program and about the impact it is going to have across our region.”

Dr. Bonita Jacobs, President of the University of North Georgia

Dr. Bonita Jacobs, President of the University of North Georgia

UNG currently hosts five campuses throughout northeast Georgia, according to Dr. Jacobs, and is the fastest growing institution in the fastest growing region of Georgia. She continued the conference saying, “As we look at businesses coming into our communities, one of the questions they ask is about workforce. Do you have the workforce?”

Dr. Jacobs also mentioned the University’s REED (Regional Economic Educational Development) Program is launching to work consistently with economic development in the area. The Upward bound program fits into the bigger picture with these other programs in UNG as it opens doors to colleges and career opportunities for these students. It helps them to understand what jobs are out there and how to get those jobs through the various pathways available in high school.

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