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County schools pursue land purchase

Posted on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm

The Lincoln County Board of Education gave its approval Tuesday to its Land Acquisition Committee to pursue negotiations on the purchase of property that members plan will ultimately become the site of a new school.

Eight properties have been generally identified as sites in which the committee is interested. Those properties, in no particular order, are located on the Huntsville Highway, Eldad Road, Molino Road, Lincoln Road, Lynchburg Road, Old Mulberry Road, Highway 64 East, and Patrick Road.

During most recent meetings, Land Acquisition Committee members have discussed and then individually ranked the properties separately based in various attributes, said Dexter Sullivan, who chairs the committee, during last week’s meeting of the full board.

In previous discussions, board members have agreed the property should be able to draw students from southern as well as northeastern portions of Lincoln County. The board is looking for a minimum of 30 to 50 acres of land suitable for building that would accommodate a K-8 school with a core capacity of 500 students.

Preferring that the property be outside Fayetteville’s city limits, other criteria include the cost of the property, as officials have said they must be able to acquire the site without any funds being needed from county taxpayers or financial institutions, economical access to all necessary utilities, and sufficient road access.

In other business, the County School Board formed a committee to study the pay scale of the system’s support staff. The action comes out of a presentation board members listened to during their recent retreat when the system’s maintenance and facilities supervisor asked that they consider pay increases for employees having certain skill sets in an effort to make the system somewhat more competitive.

“I think we need to look at the big picture and all of our employees,” said Jerry Pendergrass, board chairman. “We know they all deserve a raise for the work that they do.”

The committee would review support staff pay scales and report back to the board in December.

Board members gave their approval to the Extended Learning Project and LEAPS Project for the 2013-14 school year. According to discussion, the Extended Learning Project has faced sever cuts over recent years, some amounting to as much as $75,000 to $100,000. This year, the program cut amounts to a 25-percent reduction, $31,900, but LEAPS Project funding will help bridge the gap.

A number of budget amendments were approved, none of which required new funding. Among those was $18,000 budgeted for new outdoor lighting at Flintville School. Funding for the lights will actually come from a school fund that does not receive taxpayer support.

Additionally, the board accepted a $2,500 safe schools grant, which had been secured by staff, for staff development and training material. Included in that is training for bus drivers.

Board members agreed to help cover a portion of the costs, up to $750, for the Fall Star Party, an evening educational event which this year will join the arts with elements focused on science, technology, engineering and math. This will be second year for the Fall Star Party, and system staff noted that due to the event’s success, officials from other area school systems have asked to attend so that they can learn more about how it’s done.