Board approves fire system, resolution opposing tax exemption

The Cartersville School Board approved a new fire detection and alarm system for the elementary school and made its position known regarding a senior tax exemption at its meeting Monday night.

Board members approved 7-0 the purchase and installation of the new fire detection system from SimplexGrinnell, a subsidiary of Tyco International in Atlanta, for $75,667.49.

“We need an entirely new fire detection system at the elementary school, and we had anticipated a budget of about $45,000, but when we put everything together, the state fire marshal said we had to put a strobe in every room so that greatly increased the cost,” Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley said. “We’re buying directly from the manufacturer, and it will be put in this summer.”

The board also unanimously approved a resolution that was added to the agenda after Thursday night’s work session to oppose an increase in the current senior citizen tax exemption.

“I’m recommending your consideration of a resolution to voice your opposition to local legislation which would potentially come before the voters [and give them] the opportunity to raise the senior exemption in the city of Cartersville — the homestead exemption,” Hinesley said. “We’re currently at $28,000, and we have the lowest millage rate in the last 15 years. I believe you have done a great job of managing the finances. When you had to make a difficult decision at one point, back around 2010 or ’11, to raise the millage, you did, and then you very quickly started retreating as the revenue picked up. You didn’t just continue to hold the millage.”

Hinesley also explained the impact that an increase in the homestead exemption for seniors would have on residents.

“The difficulty, as I see it — and a lot of people don’t want to hear this — is when you give a special exemption, a large exemption, to a certain group of people, it automatically puts everybody else in line for their taxes to be increased,” he said.

The superintendent also said he doesn’t know about the likelihood of the General Assembly doing anything with the legislation.

“We don’t know if this bill is going to surface,” he said. “There is a bill drafted, and it apparently is floating around, and so we were made aware of it by someone that monitors those kind of things in Atlanta. So I’m recommending that you approve this resolution.”

The board also awarded an AdvancED accreditation certificate to the principal of each school.

“I know they would share with you that, along with their teachers and lots of people from the system, there’s a lot of work involved in doing the preparation for the AdvancED visiting team,” Hinesley said. “They did a great job, as evidenced by the report we got. We would like to present certificates that came to us from AdvancED, acknowledging our four schools are now accredited once again.”

Board president Linda Benton presented the certificates, which will be displayed at each school, to primary school Principal Gina Bishop, elementary school Principal Melissa Bates, middle school Principal Ken MacKenzie and high school Principal Dr. Marc Feuerbach.

“It’s my honor to give you this certificate of accreditation,” Benton said. “Congratulations. It took a while for this to happen, and it happened, and it was so good, and we’re so grateful. We know how much work was done.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved:

• Vice President Kelley Dial as the board’s representative at the 2017 Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly June 9-10 in Savannah.

• An overnight/out-of-state trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Oct. 25-27 for the fifth-grade challenge students.  

• The following rental requests: Bartow Family Resources for the middle school track and parking lot March 25 from 7 to 10 p.m. for a 5K; the Bartow County Masonic Convention 5K Run for Kids for the middle school parking lot April 22 from 6 to 10 a.m. for a 5K run/walk; and Fusion Dance Company in Cartersville for the high school auditorium June 3 from noon to 8:30 p.m. for Dance Showcase.

• Contract renewals for certified personnel for the 2017-18 school year.

Board members also recognized Lori Bolen from the transportation department as the Matthew Hill-Michael Dean HEARTS Employee of the Month for March.

Bolen, the secretary for the maintenance and transportation departments, received a $50 gift card to Appalachian Grill from New Frontier of Bartow County Inc. and had her name added to a perpetual plaque displayed at the central office.

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