December 11, 2006

School additions could start in spring

Victor Alvis

The Dalton Board of Education on Monday neared the end of a financing process that will allow it to renovate and expand four city schools, starting this spring.

At its regular monthly meeting, the board signed off on an intergovernmental agreement that will allow it to secure $14.8 million in revenue from bonds to be repaid by the third Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The bond sale is scheduled to close on Wednesday.

The agreement between the City of Dalton Building Authority and the school board says that, if there is an economic downturn and the SPLOST funds prove to be inadequate to pay for the bonds, the board will levy up to 14 mills of property taxes in order to repay the bonds.

“The Dalton Building Authority is the agency that issues the bonds, since the school board doesn’t have legal authority to float debt,” said Henry Tharp, the board’s attorney. “The building authority is a conduit through which we are able to get a better interest rate and maximize the funds available for the school system.”

Tharp said the building authority was created by a constitutional amendment in the late 1960s and its current members include John Robertson, Pat Gordon, Jim Reich, Ray Elrod, and J. Richard Lowery.

The district’s building plan calls for 16 additional classrooms at Blue Ridge Elementary, 14 at Brookwood Elementary, 14 at Park Creek Elementary, and 10 at Dalton Middle School.

With the financing in place, the school district plans to put the projects up for bid at the first of the year and select builders by March, according to Deana Farmer, community relations manager for Dalton Public Schools. Construction can begin next spring, with the new additions ready by fall of 2008.

Later, the school system also plans to add 34 classrooms at Dalton High and make improvements to technology and air conditioning as part of a second bond sale.

Dalton Public Schools anticipates receiving a maximum of $31.6 million from the third SPLOST, which begins in January and continues over five years.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Approved the teacher, parent, and student members of the system’s Sex Education Materials Review Committee for 2006-2007: Noheni Cervantes, Eulogia Paz, Hadiyah Ar-Rahmann, Luis Calderon, Rosa Rodriquez Delafuenta, Elsa Dominguez, Jacabo Agustin, Misty Haught, Cynthia Michaels, Martha Greene, Maris Peña, Blanca Garcia, Cade Womack, Elizabeth Carrillo, Vanessa Vazquez, Cheryl Christie, Holly Rice, Carol Satterfield, Bob Brotherton, Hope Munro, and Ruben Duarte.

• Approved changes to two sections of school board policy — sections “I and “J,” which oversee everything from tuition to student health services. The pending policies may be viewed at www.GSBAepolicy.com.

• Agreed to pay $95,600 for two school resource officers for 2007, one at Dalton High and one at Dalton Middle School.

• Approved paying labor costs of $26,348 to True Temp Heating and Air Conditioning to install six HVAC rooftop units at Westwood Elementary.

• Approved meeting dates for 2007 (most are the second Monday of each month): Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 21, April 9, May 14, June 11, July 16, Aug. 13, Sept. 10, Oct. 15, Nov. 12, and Dec. 10.

Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. at the central office at 100 S. Hamilton St.