PERRY -- When Houston County schools start the 2016-17 school year, there could be as many as 17 more teachers in the hallways.
The school board approved that many positions -- some of which are contingency positions for expected growth --at Tuesday's regular monthly meeting.
"This is a blessing that we have," Fred Wilson, the board chairman, said of the ability to make room for the positions financially.
That room can be created partially due to capital projects being funded through education sales tax proposals, one of which voters approved last week.
Officials were also able to fund other technology upgrades through grant and rebate systems, even securing more than $700,000 worth of infrastructure work at 10 schools at no final cost to the district.
"A lot of research and a lot of time has been taken by our central office staff," board Vice Chairwoman Helen Hughes said.
The positions created were approved in time to be available for the district's teacher recruitment fair, scheduled for March 19 from 9 a.m. to noon at Veterans High School. As a result, principals will go to the fair with more specific numbers in mind.
"It allows your principals to go ahead and know their allotments," Superintendent Mark Scott said.
In other business, the board approved the petition paperwork that the district will now submit to state officials to become a Strategic Waivers School System, formerly known as an Investing in Educational Excellence governance model.
While Scott said the process had become more template-based as time went on, the agreement would still allow Houston County schools to get some leeway on state requirements in exchange for added accountability in areas such as student achievement and progress.
"It allows us some flexibility," Scott said.
He hopes that Houston County's application paperwork will get to state offices in time to be considered for approval by the state school board at its meetings March 30-31.
The Houston County board will next meet on April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Houston County Career Academy for its monthly work session.
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter@MTJTimm.