Troy BOE makes ‘history’

Published 9:49 pm Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday marked the beginning “of a big week in the history of the Troy City Schools system.”

So said Dr. Judson Edwards, vice president of the Board of Education, during its regular meeting on Monday. Just minutes after he thanked Jimmy Matthews for stepping up to serve as an interim superintendent, Edwards addressed the scope of changes taking place within the system.

“This week, we’re advertising for a new superintendent,” he said. “And tonight, we just approved the paperwork on $15 million in capital improvement financing.

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“I have a good feeling as we sit here a year from now we’ll be seeing a lot more smiles in the audience and a lot less fatigue.”

Edwards’ comments came at the end of the board’s regular meeting and he was addressing the campus administrators, central office staff and parents and teachers who attended the meeting.

“It needs to be said that we’ve been through a lot of change in this system in the past two months,” Edwards said. “A lot of difficult decisions have been made, and a lot of pressure has been put on you as administrators and staff to keep things going.

“I just think it’s important that we let you know how much we appreciate you forging on.”

Edwards was referring to the resignation of Dr. Linda Felton Smith, longtime superintendent who is serving the final year of her contract as a consultant to the system. Her decision to step aside opened a vacancy for which the board has begun a formal search – in the midst of issuing $22 million in bonds to refinance existing debt and generate capital improvement funds for the district.

The bond financing project has been ongoing since 2010, and it was completed on Monday when the Public Educational Building Authority held a special meeting of its board of directors for the sole purpose of issuing bonds for the Troy Board of Education. The Authority is the financing agency for the school system. Later, during their regular meeting, members of the Troy Board of Education unanimously approved the final resolution for the bond issue.

“The money will be in your account by the middle of the day on Thursday,” said Randy Rushton, the bond attorney who has been working with the school system on the project. Rushton said the school system was able to secure financing at 4.94 percent, slightly better rates than anticipated a month ago.

“And you have an A+ rating, which is the best of any district your size in the state,” he said. “That’s a reflection on your leadership and being very conservative with funds available.”

In other business on Monday, the school board:

• Approved the position of special education coordinator and instructional technology trainer for the 2011-2012 school year. “This will be a central office position,” Matthews said. “With all the new smart technology, we need to have someone on staff to train teachers on how to use it.”

• Gave Wayne Hubbard the authority to award the bid for web hosting services after bids are opened at 2 p.m. today. Hubbard said the expected cost for the services should be about $7,200 annually, and if paperwork is completed by Thursday, the district could receive up to 80 percent in reimbursement from E-rate.

• Approved a contract with Solstice Inc. to provide counseling and support services to at-risk students.

• Agreed to fund 50 percent of the costs associated with repairs to the roof at the Troy-Pike Center for Technology. The center is operated jointly by the Troy City Schools and the Pike County Schools, and the project is estimated to cost about $200,000.

• Approved the resignations of Whitney Yarbrough, Paul Gilbert and Cathy Dixon effective May 2011 and the retirement of Gertrude Sankey. The board also approved the hiring of Shaun Bray as a central office maintenance staff member.

•Approved an amendment to the FYE2011 budget. Mickey Daughtry, financial officer for the district, said the 3 percent proration declared by Gov. Robert Bentley reduced the district’s budget by approximately $300,000. However, the district recently received nearly $200,000 in state funds for current unit funding, leaving a net impact of less than $100,000 on the budget for proration. The amendment also allowed for the carry-over of approximately $391,000 in federal stimulus funding which remains from FYE10 and must be spent by the end of the fiscal year. The revised budget projects a need to pull about $345,000 from the district’s cash reserves for operating costs. The district currently has about $9 million, or seventh months’ expenses, in reserve.

• Heard a report from Trent Givens about the success of the Charles Henderson Middle School students who participated in the Model United Nations at Troy University. Of the 27 resolutions entered, seven were passed by general assembly and four of those were written by CHMS delegations. CHMS students also won awards for outstanding native dress in the African block (first alternate); Islamic block (first and second alternate); and European block (third alternate). CHMS student Will Young was recognized as the outstanding boy delegate and Sean Alvarez was the alternate outstanding boy delegate.