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School board discusses proposed transportation bill

Pike County schools superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan and board of education chairman Ryan Edge encourage citizens to contact their legislators about HB 170, which ‘“ if passed ‘“ will cut the local portion of sales tax revenue collected on sales of vehicle fuel. The issue was discussed at the board’s Feb. 10 meeting. ’The proposal phases out the local portion of sales revenue collected on motor vehicle fuel and replaces it with an increase in the state’s excise tax on fuel. Revenue raised from fuel represents the largest portion of Pike’s SPLOST revenue,’ said Dr. Michael Duncan. ‘This money would be replaced by the increase in the excise tax and fund the state’s transportation needs. If passed, a reasonable decline in local collections would near 25%. This would place a greater burden on property owners as the K-12 population grows and the need for additional instructional space and school buses increase.’ According to Association County Commissioners of Georgia legislative director Clint Mueller, the House Transportation Subcommittee has since met and discussed several changes to HB 170 which incorporated many recommendations supported by ACCG. The subcommittee passed the new version of the bill so it will move to the full committee for consideration. School board members also heard from finance director Ken Carter who said the school completed 58% of the school year with around 59% of the school’s budget expended. ’We’re on target and we expected another tight budget this year,’ he said. ‘We were pleased to see the House and Senate is going to handle the budget in an expedited manner. They should have the budget ready by March 13 which will allow us to forge ahead with our budget work.’ As in years past, members approved a request to Georgia for class size waivers which would allow for more students in classes. The board approved requests for the same increases as last year, one to four students for kindergarten through third grade regular education, one to two students for fourth through 12th grade regular education, one to two students for English language learners, one to six students for gifted, one to two for early intervention programs, one to two for remedial and special education, one to two for vocational (CTAE), one to two for alternative education and one to two for special ed. ’Although we do have the flexibility to increase class sizes, we’re very cognizant of what works and what doesn’t in the classroom,’ said Dr. Duncan. ‘We understand the impact on instruction when we put too many students in a small space. We have a lot of discussions about what class sizes we can handle and still maximize student achievement.’ The board also: ’¢ Approved a letter of intent to be authorized and signed for Investing in Educational Excellence (IE2) contract with the Georgia Department of Education and Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. According to Georgia law, all school systems must enter multi-year contracts stipulating conditions for greater flexibility from some state board rules and Georgia statutes in return for greater academic targets. ’¢ Reapproved the administrative records, level of budgetary control, fund balance, investment earnings and financial reports policies. All policies are listed on the website and are discussed and reapproved every other year. ’¢ Approved fundraising and facility requests.

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