The new Barrow County high school that will be adjacent to Sims Academy will be the Barrow Arts & Sciences Academy.

The Barrow County Board of Education unanimously voted for that name near the end of its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Superintendent Chris McMichael recommended the name from a list of more than 200 suggested by teachers, parents, community members and students.

McMichael said during his “state of education” talk Tuesday at a chamber of commerce lunch that about 430 applications already have been made for the school.

The formal application process will be the last two weeks of October and first three weeks of November. McMichael said the school expects to open with about 600 students in August 2020.

Joe Perno, the assistant superintendent for systems operations, told the board the roof is on the classroom building. He said “you can get a lot done” when it does not “rain for three weeks” during construction.

Phase I of the school construction is underway. It includes two buildings, the classroom facility and common areas such as the cafeteria, media center and a physical education gym.

PAY INCREASE PUT OFF

A proposed pay increase for the BOE was delayed. Chair Lynn Stevens suggested a motion to defer the item “for further discussion” and that was done.

The proposal would have increased the board pay from $50 to $500 a month and $50 per diem for travel days for training and conferences. It was discussed at the work session, and board members Garey Huff Sr. and Rickey Bailey objected to the increase.

Stevens and board members Stephanie Bramlett and Beverly Kelley voiced support for the proposal.

The board members now are paid $50 a meeting. The pay was established in 1988 and has not been changed since then.

Bailey said at the work session that he could “compromise” on a smaller increase.

The motion to delay action on the proposal was done with no public discussion.

The board members received information that Barrow County’s commissioners get $625 to $788 a month, plus $25 for extra meetings up to $150 per month. BOC members also will get a 2 percent COLA increase each year starting Jan. 1. The board chair gets $33,000 per year.

SENIOR COMPLAINS

One senior citizen, Warren Gardner, who said he had lived in Barrow County for 43 years, complained that seniors are required to pay school taxes.

Gardner said he was “motivated” to register his opposition by his 2019 property tax bill. He said after the meeting that he pays the tax bill on two houses, one that one of his daughters lives in.

He said senior citizens generally bought their houses much earlier “at prices we could afford.” Now they have increased in value but seniors’ income has not increased with the housing values.

He said he realizes the county has “educational needs,” but he said some relief should be calculated for seniors. He suggested that property values could be “frozen” at the price the homeowner paid and then when the house is sold, taxes could be paid on the difference.

He said the property taxes are an “immoral situation that ought to be addressed.”

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the BOE:

•held a closed session for more than 30 minutes about personnel. No action was taken after the meeting.

•heard that the 2018 graduates of Barrow County schools that now attend the University of Georgia had the highest GPA of any group (of at least 10 students) from Georgia schools with a 3.804 GPA. The school received the UGA Directors’ Cup for the honor.

•heard that the schools’ ELOST — Education Local Option Sales Tax — payment for September was still above $1 million. It was $1.037 million, the seventh month in 2019 it has been above the seven-figure mark. That was 9.3 percent more than the same period last year when the county received $8.4 million.

•recognized Jason Argueta, a junior at Winder-Barrow High School, for placing first in transportation modeling at the Technical Student Association competition. Kimberly Garren, engineering teacher and the 2018 Barrow County Teacher of the Year, introduced her student.

•heard that the school system got the Leadership District Award for its partnership with ArtsNow for more than 10 years and especially for the past three years through the Center for Innovative Teaching.

•recognized Bradyn Bramlett and Tyler Bryant, both from Russell Middle School and Argueta for all three being named to the state school superintendent’s student advisory committee. Meridith Wages, principal at Russell Middle, said 65 students from middle schools and 65 from high schools were named to the group.

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