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Board hears opening day school report

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By JULIE HAMBRICK

The Trimble Banner

Updates on the school district’s construction projects and the first days back to class were major topics at the Trimble County School Board’s first meeting of the 2012-2013 school year.

At the Aug.16 meeting, all school principals reported successful first days. According to Milton Elementary Principal Sharon James, all students -- and most parents -- seemed to make the transition with ease. Bedford Elementary Principal Debbie Beeles reported upbeat attitudes and a smooth start, as well.

High school Principal Rachael Adams said while replacement of the building’s roof continues, construction hasn’t interfered with students’ return to class.  Workers have moved to night work to
reduce possible distractions.

Adams assured the board that related damage to part of the building’s intercom and bell system didn’t affect school-wide fire alarms. “Our first fire drill was a success,” she said.

Director of Federal Programs and Instruction Rebecca Moore reported that the district’s 2011-2012 composite ACT scores improved. Students averaged 20.8 total points, up from 19.0 the previous year.

This year, district enrollment dipped slightly. As of Aug. 14, students attending Trimble schools totaled 1,398. This reflects a slight drop from last year’s enrollment of 1,432 students at this time.

According to Assistant Superintendent/Director of Pupil Personnel Jessica Wilcoxson, these enrollment numbers break down as follows:

Trimble County High School, 422 students

Trimble County Middle School, 348 students

Bedford Elementary School, 367 students

Milton Elementary School, 261 students.

Wilcoxson anticipates these figures will change as the school year gets underway.

Several personnel changes were reported throughout the district. Some new hires are working without pay. When state background checks are complete, they will officially assume their new positions. Middle school Principal Mike Genton commended these new hires’ commitment to students.

School board members voted to increase the 2012-2013 tax rate to 62 cents for every $100 of real and personal properties. That means Trimble County residents will pay $12 more this school year on property valued at $100,000 and above. Raising local tax revenues will pull in an estimated $3 million for the district, up from $2.8 million last year.

Board member Kim Temple was the only member to oppose the increase, citing the current sluggish economy for her vote. “I just can’t support any (tax) increases when so many are already having a tough time,” Temple said.

As part of new business, board members approved addition of a part-time Spanish teacher at the high school. Currently, students study Spanish independently (with an instructional aide) using the Rosetta Stone program, at an annual cost of $11,000.

“I’m using 48 percent of my instructional funds for a program that’s proven to be ineffective,” Principal Adams reported. Superintendent Marcia Haney-Dunaway stressed the importance of a teacher “in the classroom.” Board chair Joey Martin agreed that hiring a part-time instructor will make better use of the district’s money.

Board member Scott Burrows moved to empower Superintendent Haney-Dunaway and Principal Adams to fill the new language position.  

According to reports from Scott-Klausing Architects, advances continue on the high school’s roof replacement and the district’s new athletic fields.  

Contractor Doug Sturgeon informed the board on phase one of the athletic construction. As of Aug. 15, workers had completed roofing on the buildings, as well as installation of casework, counter tops, drywall, and plumbing fixtures. Shelby Energy has connected the electrical service. Some projects, including seating, landscaping, and irrigation, will begin after Labor Day.

Board members approved a few changes to the field’s entrance. These include updates to masonry piers, extra electrical outlets, paint and lettering for the archway, and a new security gate from Professional Fence Co. of LaGrange.

Sturgeon also reported progress on the roof replacement over the gym and original high school wing. As of Aug. 14, workers had removed the old roof and installed a temporary roof and new roof-drain plumbing. Work nears completion on updates to the rooftop mechanical unit. Installation of new tapered insulation and the roof base is underway, while chimney and brick repairs continue.

Board members voted to approve several action items related to the roofing project, including:

A video camera inspection and clean up of existing storm-drain lines

Insulation filler and wood blocking to support the low roof area in front of the gym

A new expansion joint where the roof joins the gym wall, to prevent leaks in the stage area

Updates to the existing rooftop air-conditioning unit.

Despite projected savings to the project, board members rejected recommendations to add new gym-area roofing over existing layers.  Members were united in their concern for student safety and the roof’s overall life. “Safety has to come first,” said board member Jill Simmons.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 5 at the Trimble County Central Office Building, 68 Wentworth Ave., Bedford.