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OPINION PAGE - AUGUST 18, 1999 - HOMER, GEORGIA

Column
Sherry Lewis
The Banks County News- August 18, 1999

Lots to be proud
of at new BCHS
Over the years, I have heard this theme used many times in Banks County High School - "Be Proud, Leopards!"
Well, if students have never had anything to be proud of until now, they should be impressed when the doors to the new high school open on Friday.
I've been in and out of the new school over the past week and it has really come together. One thing I've noticed is that students are not only getting a new building but a lot of new state-of-the art equipment as well. The state has contributed a great deal of money, including a $500,000 grant for technology, and the board of education has also been willing to go the extra mile to get other equipment and supplies to make this a first-class facility. In the band room, other items have come from candy sales and from contributions from the band boosters.
I'm sure building the new school has been a long time coming for students who have dodged other students in the lunchroom, hallways and parking lots for years. But it is one of the first schools finished since the legislation passed to designate one cent in sales tax money for education. Which means we can pay for a great deal of the project though sales tax dollars from Banks Crossing.
I appreciate the foresight of superintendent Dock Sisk and the board of education who looked far enough in the future to have this plan ready to go as soon as a means to collect the money was available. There was a committee of around 20 people who worked endlessly to help educate citizens on the importance of voting for a bond referendum. Those people played a major role in getting the financing in place to start the building. Banks County voters also had a vision to get the facility in place to educate the children of the county when they approved the bond referendum.
Banks County teachers throughout the system have worked endlessly to see this dream come to pass. Teachers at the high school level have learned patience waiting for the OK to get into their classrooms while other teachers have been forced to wait until someone moves out of an old classroom so they could move in.
As I walked up and down the wings of the high school on Monday, I too could feel a sense of pride along with everyone there.
I believe the building will enhance learning and I believe a strong administration has been put in place to support it, as well. Jan Bertrang, principal, has proven herself as a strong leader, and the addition of Greg Banks is an asset to our system. The students also have a strong basis of support with K. Ellen Hagan as school counselor.
So I believe when Friday rolls around, Banks County teachers, students, administrators and citizens all have a right to "Be Proud."
Sherry Lewis is news editor of The Banks County News.

Editorial
The Banks County News
August 18, 1999

Many responsible for new high school
Countless educators, parents and students have been working for some time to bring a much-needed high school to Banks County. Their efforts will be paid off Friday when the new facility opens its doors to students.
People throughout Banks County worked long to pass a special purpose local option sales tax to help fund a new school. Once this important hurdle was passed, the countians went to work to plan the design for the new facility. The meetings were long and the plans changed. In the end, a school that will serve us well was built for our students.
The new school will be a focal point of our county. It will also be a great source of pride for years to come. All who were responsible for the new school deserve our gratitude.



Letters to the Editor
The Banks County News
August 18, 1999

Disagrees with Baldwin mayor
Dear Editor:
After reading the latest about the busing of Baldwin's children on the Banks County side to the county schools in Homer, I felt compelled to write this letter. The parents in Baldwin are sounding as if they have no options in this matter. They are making the BOEs of Banks and Habersham out to be the ogres in this matter. Last I read, the Baldwin parents do have a choice. They can continue to send their children to Habersham County. It's just that now they, and not the county, have to pay the tuition in order to do so.
Why should Banks County fund these tuitions when everyone knows we now have the teachers and space to educate our own? Granted, it will be hard in the beginning for those students who will be bused from Baldwin, but like all of us, they will take the necessary steps in order to make the best of it. I don't know about the rest of you, but I was offended hearing the remarks of Mr. Mark Reed, the Baldwin mayor, stating that the Banks County BOE should write a check to Habersham and let them educate these children. If you are so distraught, Mr. Reed, about these children being bused to Homer, then the city of Baldwin should write that check to Habersham. I, for one, am against any tax money being paid to another county to educate anyone's children when this county is now fully capable of filling that need.
Now, I realize that some people in Baldwin will say that they pay taxes, too. Yes, you most certainly do, but those monies are spent for the upgrading of the infrastructure of this county. It is not the responsibility of the BOE or any other county government entity to pay any money to any other county because of a little inconvenience to a small sect of the population. I'm sorry, Mr. Reed, but gone are the days when Banks County had to pay these tuitions for the education of your citizens' children. I know it must be difficult for you, but get used to the idea that Banks County is growing and that there will be a lot more changes in the years to come, so get off the BOE's back.
Sincerely,
Simon Hartly
Homer


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