The Bibb County school board met Thursday night and dealt with a number of items including an education sales tax, an update on choosing a new operational structure and approval of the next two years of academic calendars.
EDUCATION SALES TAX
Board members unanimously voted to prepare a referendum asking voters to approve a new educational special purpose local option sales tax that would not begin until after the current one expires.
Ron Collier, the system’s chief financial officer, gave the board a presentation on the status of the current ESPLOST.
As of Jan 31, the total amount raised by the tax was $129 million. Collier noted the amount is “slightly behind” the projections of $159 million, but the system still has about 12 months to reach the original budget.
The current ESPLOST was approved by Bibb County voters in November 2009 and will expire at the end of this year.
Over the past five years, the revenue from this penny sales tax has provided money for several essential district improvements, such as technology upgrades -- from new computers for staff and students to systemwide infrastructure improvements -- as well as new school construction and renovations.
CHOOSING AN OPERATIONAL SYSTEM
Over the past couple of months, the school district has held several community sessions to educate the public and seek input on what organization structure -- status quo, Investing in Educational Excellence or charter system -- it should choose.
According to a report from Lori Rodgers, executive director of special programs, about 600 stakeholders attended the community informational sessions.
Of 479 people who responded to a district survey, about 42 percent said they think Bibb should choose the IE² model while about 41 percent chose charter.
The district has until June 30 to inform the state of its decision.
“I would like to bring a recommendation next month.” interim Superintendent Kelly Castlin-Gacutan said.
The board unanimously approved the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic calendars after a presentation by Ed Judie, chief officer of student affairs.
After the initial academic calendar proposal at the board meeting in January, the district collected survey data and input from the public over the past month which helped inform the planning, Judie said.
Compared to last year’s calendar, “the variance of the change is almost nonexisting,” Judie said.
In a 5-3 vote, the board named Michael Kemp to the district’s newly created administrative position of chief accountability and information officer.
Board members Tom Hudson, Wanda West and Ella Carter voted against hiring Kemp.
“(Kemp) comes to us with over 20 years experience,” said Castlin-Gacutan. She added that Kemp currently holds a vice president position in the technology field and has an “enormous amount of experience training educational clients on the use of technology.”