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Alba-Golden school board set to ‘go public’ with bond proposals

The Alba-Golden school board on Monday decided to take bond options for school improvements to the public. The issue was not listed as an item on the regular board meeting agenda but stemmed from a statement by Superintendent Dwayne Ellis and subsequent discussion. The manner and timing of public disclosure and debate is yet to be determined.

Describing how initial serious discussions regarding the present school infrastructure needs began in 2010, Ellis commented, “At some point we must decide: Is this the project we want done? The board needs to instruct me on requirements. I need to hear from everyone. This must be a board decision.”

A lively discussion ensued, which highlighted the need for a singular focus on the requirements. Ellis stated that the agricultural facility, fiber-optic room and art room could be funded now out of the school’s general fund. That would leave the requirements of a new pre-K and kindergarten wing and a new gymnasium as the two targets for a bond drive.

Significant discussions ensued regarding the requirement for a new gymnasium. Although all members seemed to accept and endorse the construction of five new classrooms (three for pre-k and four for kindergarten) in a new instructional wing, a difference of opinion emerged on the need for a new gym.

“The instructional wing is the only true need. The gym is a need if you want to keep up with the Joneses,” Ellis stated. He continued, “I would love a new gym, but it is not the requirement.” The desire for a new gym appeared to be a foregone conclusion among the board.

The superintendent asked Business Manager Brenda Kelley to distribute the rough order of magnitude calculations that had been done on a $10 million and a $12 million bond. The new instructional wing cost would be approximately $3 million, while the new gymnasium would cost approximately $9 million. Discussions regarding building costs, materials, state funding sources, foundations, other area school districts having recently approved bond proposals, tax implications for the average district household, and the present remaining balance of a 2008 loan ensued.

After significant interaction, board President Mike Ragsdale leaned in and directed a show of hands regarding the need to take the scope of the bond and the project itself to the voters. The board agreed and he closed the issue for the evening by announcing: “We are going public with it.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved new 12-month contracts for school counselors Starla Bryant, Debra Carson and Julie Cole. Curriculum Directors Deitra Bizzell and Michele Glidewell, Special Programs Coordinator Jennifer Wigington and Food Service Director Laura Reid were also approved for 12-month contracts. Ellis lauded the specialized employees and commented how the curriculum directors, now in their second year at the district, have had a telling impact on continuity of instruction.

The board also approved Rutherford, Taylor and Company of Greenville to conduct the 2019 financial audit. The firm will conduct the audit with a fee ceiling of $16,975.

James Wells was named the school’s new integrated pest manager.

Third-grader Silas Aguirre and sixth-grader Jodyn Bossier were named students of the month and recognized before the board. Aguirre was described as “a kid of great character,” who is considerate, polite and caring. Aguirre’s favorite class is physical education, and his long-term goals are to play either in the National Football League or Major League Baseball. The son of George and Melissa Aguirre, Silas son was quoted as stating he liked “the big, think books instead of the skinny books.”

Bossier’s career intentions are remarkably well-defined for a sixth-grader. She expects to attend Louisiana State University and study to become a doctor. Bossier is so taken with learning that she intends to continue attending school “until they kick her out!” Bossier was described by her teachers as “a joy to have in class, a model student, and an inspiration to us all.”

All board members were in attendance at the March 18 regular board meeting.


This article may be found, as originally published, at Wood County Monitor online.  

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