News from Banks County...

 August 23, 2000


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OPINION

Angela Gary
Pedaling full speed ahead
Flying across the field with wind whipping through my hair. Laughing as I go faster and faster and faster. Suddenly, I come to a little hill and I am going faster than ever before. I feel out of control. I can't stop. I scream at my mother, who is watching my wild ride, "Help me stop!!!"

Drew Brantley
Crystal ball out, polished
It's just about time to stop talking about what the football season could be. This Friday night, some high school teams begin . . .


SPORTS
BCHS takes 3rd place
Banks County opened the softball season with a third-place finish in the Dragon Booster Club Tournament in Jefferson last weekend.
Banks County finished third overall in the tournament with a 3-2 record.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Survey Shows Companies Like Doing Business Here
A survey of 31 local manufacturing plants and other businesses shows that while the companies may have problems getting qualified labor, they all like Jackson County as a place to do business.

Airport under temporary operations
The Jackson County Airport Authority is considering hiring a full-time airport manager to replace its former fixed based operator. Max Allen's contract to manage the airport as an FBO expired July 31.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Parents concerned about school system's transportation plans
Over 100 parents gathered at a called meeting of the Madison County Board of Education Tuesday night to express their concern over the school bus schedule. At issue were whether county buses would transport kids to a local day care and the length of time busing kids has taken so far this year.

Comer mayor resigns
Kevin Booth has resigned as the mayor of Comer, effective Sept. 1. He turned in his resignation Aug. 15.


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ALL SMILES ON FIRST DAY


Mitchell Standridge was all smiles as he showed up for his first day of school with his mom, Deanna.


BANKS CO. GOVERNMENT

Lula may have broken law
Lula's discussions in closed session questionable
The Lula City Council may have violated state law after discussing several broad personnel issues in a closed session Monday night. By law, the council may only discuss issues in closed session related to a specific employee, not a range of employees.
"Closing a meeting for personnel matters is only for discussions pertaining to the hiring or performance of a particular individual," said David Hudson, Georgia Press Association legal counsel. "Pay raises for all employees is a policy matter that must be discussed in the open."
After the closed session Monday night, the council re-opened the meeting and voted to raise the starting pay for all full-time employees to $9 per hour and voted to give all permanent part-time employees one-half day of sick leave each month. The council also voted to promote Tony Christopher from a part-time to a full-time maintenance position.
Lula mayor Tim Allen confirmed Tuesday that all three issues were discussed during the closed meeting, which was not open to the public.
The Official Code of Georgia, 50-14-3 (6) states that a council is only allowed to discuss certain matters related to a single officer or employee. The issues pertaining to all full-time city employees and all part-time city employees cannot legally be discussed in closed session and must be open to the public.
Lula attorney Brad Patten said he felt the discussions were within the law.
"I felt the issues involved a specific employee," Patten said Wednesday morning.
Allen signed an affidavit Monday night stating the council only discussed those personnel issues allowed under law. The affidavit is required by law.


Banks County students turned away from Baldwin Elementary due to lack of space
Banks County students planning to attend Baldwin Elementary School when classes began on Friday found out last week that they would not be able to due to a lack of space at the school.
The Habersham County School System reportedly blamed the governor's education reform bill, which led to a reduction in class sizes, as the reason Banks County students were turned away from Baldwin. The parents were told that they could send their students to Cornelia Elementary School, located three miles further north in Habersham County.
What bothered many parents about the situation is that they were not notified until Thursday that their children wouldn't be able to attend Baldwin school on Friday.
Parents had received letters from the teachers at Baldwin Elementary earlier last week inviting them to attend the open house on Thursday, Aug. 17, to meet staff and see what room their children would be in, according to Alto City Council member Susan Wade. She said that when Banks County parents brought their children to the open house, they were asked to leave.
"It caused a lot of distress to the children and parents," she said.
Wade, who is a resident of Banks County, said that her child had already been accepted by the Habersham County Board of Education and was enrolled in Baldwin Elementary for the 2000-2001 school year.
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed said: "We're still trying to understand what motivated Habersham County BOE to make this drastic change. They're blaming Governor Barnes for this. But, the law, as I understand it, allows four years for the school systems to make the class size adjustments. Why they chose to implement the restrictions immediately makes no sense to me. They are not taking into consideration the effect on the children. It makes no sense that children who live in Baldwin cannot go to school in Baldwin."
Reed said that he is also concerned that neither the Habersham BOE nor county commissioners asked the town about the anticipated growth within the Baldwin community.
"No one came and asked us how many new families were living in Baldwin or how many new houses were being built," he said. "They never asked how they could help us. They just passed this policy."
Reed also said that some children who live on the Habersham side of Baldwin were also refused enrollment to Baldwin Elementary because of the way the school districts had been laid out. The mayor said he called the Habersham County BOE and spoke with board member Sylvia Palmer about re-drawing the school districts and she told him that it was up to the county commissioners, not the school board. Habersham County BOE board members reportedly claimed that Habersham County residents would not pay for Banks County children to attend their schools. However, Habersham County receives funding from the state to educate the Banks County children, according to Reed and Wade.
Reed is planning on talking to the American Civil Liberties Union to find out if any rights are being violated by the Habersham BOE move. He has also called the governor's office to let Gov. Barnes know that the Habersham County BOE is blaming him for the reassignment of Baldwin students. A staff official told Reed that the governor would not be happy to hear this news.
"It shouldn't be this difficult to educate our children," stated Reed. "I don't know what's going to happen. We may file a suit against both Habersham and Banks counties. What we need is a meeting between the two counties and the parents so they can hear what this issue is all about and come up with a plan to remedy the situation. They need to hear of the stress these parents are under­the talk of selling homes and moving and the rejected feeling of the children who feel singled out and who can't go to school with the kids from their neighborhood where they grew up."
TO ATTEND STATE MEETING
Parents and city officials of Baldwin and Alto are planning to attend the Sept. 13 public hearing at the Georgia Department of Education in Atlanta at 10 a.m. A caravan is planned to carry all interested parties to voice opinions on the school choice issue now troubling the cross-county cities of Baldwin and Alto.
A petition will be presented to the state board members that has been signed by residents of both Banks and Habersham counties asking the board to reconsider stipulations on distance and travel time on the public school choice issue.
Anyone may ride with the caravan and attend the meeting, leaders say. There is a sign-up sheet at Alto City Hall and one is also posted on the Alto playground. Those who are interested can also call Baldwin City Hall and Alto City Hall for information.
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BOE handles personnel matters in called meeting
Four more staff members were hired in a called meeting of the Banks County Board of Education Monday night.
Kathryn Walterhouse was named as a fourth-fifth grade special education teacher, while Meredith Brooks Stewart was hired as the chorus instructor. Dale Ballenger and Nora Sosebee were hired as bus monitors.
In other personnel matters, the BOE approved several transfers at the high school, including moving Melva Martin from bookkeeper to media paraprofessional; Regina Gailey from receptionist to bookkeeper; and Tina Walker from paraprofessional to secretary/receptionist. The BOE also accepted the resignation of Kathy Voyles, custodian at Banks County High School.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the BOE:
·approved an insurance quote from the Georgia School Board Association for: general liability, $3,752; school board errors and omissions liability, $4,615; property (including mobile equipment), $21,700; flood and earthquake extension, $1,092; and boiler and machinery, $810. The total annual premium will be $31,969; however, it will be $27,094 for this first year because it is only for an 11-month period.
·heard superintendent Deborah White say the first day of classes Friday went smoothly. She reported an enrollment of 2,243 students, which is up 20 over the second day of classes last year.