Previously, work sessions were typically held a week before business meetings, with eight being held on the same day in 2013. Superintendent John Harper has said there are some system cost savings in consolidating the meetings to one evening and that it is more accommodating to board members who serve on other boards and committees.
Board member Matt Shultz voted against the measure.
“I really wasn’t in favor of this — we talked about it last year. I just feel this creates a situation where we’re less transparent to the community. Honestly, we could be in a situation where ... the community is finding out about actions we have taken after we have already voted on it,” Shultz said, “in particular when we have issues posted on an agenda sometimes in an untimely manner. So I just don’t understand why we need to have this much of a short, compressed time period with the meetings.
“We’ve had numerous members of the board have needed that extra week to ask additional questions or to have things clarified, and when we’re having the work session and the actual voting meeting on the same night, I don’t think it’s giving any of us time to do due diligence on our own part. But it certainly gives the community no time to give us any input on what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Georgia’s Open Records Act states an agenda for any public meeting must be posted as soon as possible within two weeks of the upcoming meeting. The BCBOE typically posts the agendas for their work and business sessions online and at the central office on the Friday afternoon prior to the next meeting.
Also during the meeting, the board voted to approve $866,700 in Phase II construction updates to the Bartow County College and Career Academy. The board approved $45,000 in general construction contingency requirements. Both items will be funded by a state grant.
“Phase II is going to have a public safety lab. It’s going to be over 2,000 feet of space where [students] are going to have a shooting range with a laser shooter; they’re going to have a mock forensic lab where they can do forensics; they’re going to have a judge’s bench and judge’s courtroom where they can show how that whole process works; [and] they’re actually going to have a booking room there, so it’s going to be very real for the students,” BCCCA President and CEO Paul Sabin said following the business session.
Phase II also will feature a student center.
In other BCCCA news, Sabin announced Janet Queen, who serves as special projects relocation coordinator for Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen and BCCCA board member, will soon begin working with the academy through Georgia Power’s Executive on Loan program.
“What [the program] is basically is [Georgia Power] loans an executive to a community organization for a period of time and ... she’s going to be working with getting student internships, building relationships with current and future industry, and really building that commitment between the school system and the community, and I couldn’t be more excited about that,” Sabin said during the work session.
The board approved to spend $9,028 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue on improvements to White Elementary School and Hamilton Crossing Elementary School. The improvements at HCES will include the building of 10 classrooms and expanding parking, while WES will see 13 classrooms and safety renovations at the front entrance.
The board also elected Davis Nelson to maintain his seat as board chair and Fred Kittle as board vice chair.