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FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 11, 1999 - HOMER, GA


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EDUCATION
New high school to be ready for students Aug. 20
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The new Banks County High School will be ready for students when school begins on Friday, Aug. 20.
Superintendent Dock Sisk said the school facility will be ready but the gym and auditorium won't be completed until later this year. There had been some rumors across the county that the new high school wouldn't be ready on time, but that isn't the case.
Sisk said the gym will not be ready until the end of August and the auditorium should be complete by October.
"We are in good shape as far as the classrooms go," he said. "It will probably take us a while to get organized, but we'll be ready to go."
This week, workers are putting in the turning lanes on Hwy. 441 to complete the paving project. The cement walkways should also be put in place this week, although the canopies will be added at a later date, he continued.
Sisk said that the new school will be the location of the annual systemwide teachers' meeting on Monday, August 16.
The school system will be holding an open house at a later date when everything is completed, according to Sisk.


GETTING READY FOR OPENING DAY
Banks County High School principal Jan Bertrang is one of many administrators, faculty and staff who are hard at work to get the new school ready for classes on Friday, August 20. Many teachers will get their first look at the school on Monday when the doors are open for the systemwide county meeting. Photo by Sherry Lewis



BOE adopts $13.7 million budget
BY DREW BRANTLEY
The Banks County Board of Education adopted a $13.7 million budget for fiscal year 2000 when it met Monday night. The budget is up $1.1 million over last year's $12.6 million budget.
Based on projected income for the coming year with the current millage rate, the new budget would have a shortfall of about $750,000, superintendent Dock Sisk said at a work session Thursday night. The board cut approximately $200,000 from the initial proposed budget at the work session.
After the tax digest is released later this year by the county, the board will set its millage rate.
In other business, the board:
·renewed insurance policies with Advantage Insurers for property ($6,884), general liability ($5,526), school board liability ($3,241) and fleet insurance ($803.44) with State Farm.
·accepted the resignations of Jennifer Perry Hinson and Sandra Powell.
·hired Jason Terrell as a fifth-grade teacher at the Banks County Middle School.
·hired Regina Gailey (clerical) and Christy Brown and Ben Gordon (custodians) at the high school.
·approved a transfer of Kim Jordan to the primary school from the middle school.
·approved the substitute list for bus drivers and teachers.
·hired John Bertrang as junior varsity boys' basketball coach.
·discussed quotes on hiring additional waste management to handle garbage and recyclable material produced at the new high school.
·approved the school safety plan.

COMMUNITY

Mayor plans parade for 'children of Baldwin'
Still opposed to city children being bused to Banks County
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Baldwin mayor Mark Reed is planning to lead a parade to "celebrate the children of Baldwin" who he says have become victims of the Banks County and Habersham County boards of education.
"It seems they (the BOEs) are not willing to try and find a solution and even think we are unreasonable for asking," said Reed. "We need to show these children how much they mean to us with a parade and cookout to hold our town together. This school thing is going to tear our town apart if we let it. "
Councilwoman Deloris Thomas asked Reed if it is going to be a "parade of a protest."
Reed said: "I would like to make a sign that said 'thank you, Banks County' but we may need to make signs that say 'shame on both boards of education for not recognizing our needs.'"
Reed is also calling for a day of prayer on Sunday.
"I have made earthly appeals as high as I can go," he said. "On Sunday, I will ask ministers, lay people, adults and children to pray about the safety, well-being and happiness of our children and ask God to protect them."
For months, Reed, the city council and citizens have pleaded with the BOEs to come to some agreement so that 25 children who live in Baldwin on the Banks County side will not have to board a bus and travel to Homer to school. This became an issue when both boards voted to end an attendance contract that has allowed students to cross county lines to attend either school for many years.
On Monday, the parents of those children must pay the first installment of an annual $1,300 tuition payment to the Habersham County school system or be prepared to load them on a bus for Homer come Friday morning, August 20.
Reed told the council and citizens that Walter Wade will be driving the bus which will begin picking children up around 6:30 a.m. on Davidson Drive. The bus route will go to Baldwin and proceed to Alto and then to Homer on Apple Pie Ridge Road and Hwy. 441.
"That means the kids will need to be up around 5:30, which is probably earlier than the teachers get up," said Reed.
Wade will begin a trial run on the bus next week, Reed continued. He said it might comfort parents to have an opportunity to ride the bus and meet the driver.
Thomas called for the Banks County BOE and superintendent Dock Sisk to ride the route themselves.
"We need to get the Banks County school board to ride that bus and let them see how long our children are going to be on that bus," she said. "Let them get up, wait, and go down that mountain."
Former councilman Lamar Wilbanks voiced his opinion about both BOEs.
"They ought to resign if they can't think about these children," said Wilbanks.
Reed and the council have appealed to both BOEs and recently got a letter from Sisk stating that a majority of the board is not interested in revisiting the matter.
"They say they have adequate space, teachers and resources to teach these children," Reed said. "A child should not have to get on that bus. The board should do what is in the best interest of the children and they should write a check to Habersham County and let them educate those children."
Reed said he is refusing to give up in this fight. He has contacted District 22 State Representative Jeanette Jamieson, who is looking for a solution, along with Governor Roy Barnes. But for the time being, it looks as if the parents of those children will have to pay the tuition or enroll their children in the Banks County school system.


Homer budget up 16 percent
City council to hold budget hearing Tues.
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The Homer City Council will hold a hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2000 budget Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
The proposed general fund budget is expected to increase from $302,850 to $359,100, a 16 percent increase over last year.
Changes in general fund revenues include $40,000 in grants from the Georgia Department of Transportation to build 1.5 miles of sidewalks. Sales tax revenues are expected to increase from $155,000 to $159,000; the insurance premium tax is expected to rise from $27,000 to $28,000; and the beer and wine tax is expected to remain at $21,000.
License and permit fees are expected to increase from $6,000 to $7,000; franchise fees should rise from $35,000 to $36,000; and garbage pick-up revenues are expected to increase from $18,000 to $23,000.
Most general fund expenses are expected to remain constant. The proposed budget includes $132,000 for general administration, a $13,600 decrease over last year. This category includes adminstrative salaries, professional fees, utilities and office expenses.
The fire department budget is $10,700, which is a $2,500 decrease over last year, and street sanitation is budgeted at $133,000, a $20,000 increase over last year. This includes the grant money for the sidewalks.
The Piedmont Regional Library has requested $1,983, a $217 decrease over last year; and the Banks County Public Library has requested $20,500 to increase services. This is up $6,500 over last year.
The proposed budget includes $500 for the adult learning center; $1,000 for economic development; and capital outlay of $50,000.
WATER DEPARTMENT
Water department revenues are expected to increase from $163,700 to $224,350, a $60,650 increase. The fees for water services should rise from $69,500 to $75,000; tap-on fees are expected to increase from $4,000 to $8,000; and the city is expecting to get $64,000 from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
The city is expecting to spend $64,000 on an addition to the water system, $2,500 on lab fees and $1,000 on equipment consulting.
Payroll expenses are expected to rise from $27,000 to $32,000; repairs and maintenance should increase from $4,500 to $7,000; and the amount of water purchased from Banks County is expected to decrease from $6,000 to $5,000.
The city council will not take final action to approve this budget until the public hearing is held.


The Banks County News - Homer, Georgia
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