Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education Will Consider Changes In Meeting Times In Response To Citizen Request

***Decision Likely Next Week***

The Oconee County Board of Education agreed at its work session on Monday to consider changing its meetings times to accommodate the needs of parents.

The action followed a request by Brandi Herndon, moderator of the Facebook group, Parents Improving Oconee Schools, who asked the Board at its April 16 meeting to consider changing the times of its meetings to accommodate parents and to hold town hall meetings.

Board member Amy Parrish raised the question of meeting times after School Superintendent Jason Branch on Monday presented the Board with a calendar listing meetings during the next academic year.

The calendar will be on the agenda for action at the Board’s regular meeting on Monday, and Chair Tom Odom said the Board can agree on a time for those meetings when it adopts the calendar.

On Monday the Board also received a proposed $79.1 million Fiscal Year 2019 Budget that is balanced by drawing on $4.5 million in reserve funds, or money in savings.

School administrators also provided the Board with updates on construction projects and assured the Board that work on the new Dove Creek Elementary School, the expansion of Oconee County High School, and replacement of the track and fields at both high schools is on schedule.

Parrish On Meeting Times

Parrish said that with adoption of the calendar “It is time for us to discuss meeting times, since that issue has been brought to our attention.”

Argo And Parrish

Following Herndon’s request of the Board last month, Parrish said, “I went ahead and reached out to folks that I would encounter.”

Parrish said the Board spends a lot of time at its meetings recognizing students, and I know it would be difficult for me to try to get my kid and get her for a 5 (p.m. meeting).”

Parrish noted that the Board has been meeting at 5 p.m. since 2008.

Board member Kim Argo said information provided to the Board members indicated that there is a great deal of variability in when other School Boards in the area meet.

She said a 6 p.m. start time was acceptable to her provided that the monthly work sessions and the monthly regular meetings be held at the same time.

FY 2019 Budget

Chief Financial Officer Saranna Charping gave the Board a draft of the budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year that assumes no increase in the property tax millage rate.

The $78,093,500 budget is an increase of $8,308,474 over the current Fiscal Year Budget.

The increase reflects the addition of 22 positions in the school system ($1,785,000) and start-up and staffing costs of $1,950,000 for the new Dove Creek Elementary School on Hog Mountain Road at the far west of the county.

The budget growth also reflects $1,875,000 in increases in the System’s contributions to state Teacher Retirement System.

Revenue Sources

The budget reflects $39,781,999 in state funding for the Oconee County School System and $33,770,724 in local funding, with most of that local coming from property taxes.

Total revenue to the System is projected to grow from $68,564,644 in the current Fiscal Year to $73,552,723 in the 2019 Fiscal Year, reflecting an increase in state funding and a growth in the local tax base.

To balance the budget, Charping is proposing that the Board approve drawing $4,540,777 from System's reserves.

The budget approved by the Board last year shows the System having $12,379,618 in the Fund Balance as of June 30, 2018, down from $13,600,000 a year earlier, but Charping’s current projection is that the actual Fund Balance on June 30, 2018, will be $17,800,000.

At the end of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget–on June 30, 2019–according to the budget Charping presented, the estimated Fund Balance would be $13,259,223.

Board Member Tim Burgess expressed concern about the growth in expenditures over revenue and asked that Charping try to find ways to bring spending in line with revenue.


Jake Grant, director of Operations, told the Board that construction at Dove Creek Elementary School is on schedule.

The System is coordinating with the county on road work for access to the school, Grant said.

Construction at Oconee County High School also continues on schedule, Grant said, and the portable units at the school will be removed soon.

Work has begun at North Oconee High School on replacement of the turf with a synthetic grass and replacement of the track. Work also is about to begin on the track and field at Oconee County High School, Grant said.


I was not able to attend the Board of Education meeting because of a conflict with a medical appointment.

Penny Mills did attend, and she recorded the video below.

Grant began his report on construction at 27:09 in the video.

Charping made her report on the budget at 37:57.

The discussion of the calendar and meeting times begins at 54:13 in the video.

OCO: BOE 5 7 18 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

Amy Parrish listened and acted based on suggestions by the people of Oconee County. She was honest and sincere in working with parents on this and other issues. Thank you.

Kim Argo could only be “flexible” to a 6 PM or a 1 hour change. May need to rethink this one.

Now, when will the IDA come out from the basement of the Chamber of Commerce at 4PM and meet in the Oconee County Courthouse at a 7 PM time when the public is able to attend? And not on the same day and time as the BOE.

Both of these boards (one elected, one appointed) deal with millions in tax dollars; that reason alone makes it necessary for absolute transparency.

I appreciate the hard work of these boards and hope both boards will consider meeting at a time when the public can attend.

Anonymous said...

With the vast majority of jobs, if you can't make it to a 6pm board meeting, you aren't really trying to make it there very hard. I think the concession to switch it to 6pm is exactly what is being asked for. Parents in this county are going to complain NO MATTER WHAT obviously.

Bill Mayberry said...

"Obviously" SOME working people, those who actually pay the bills, still cannot make a six o'clock meeting. You know, like those with families with whom they have dinner? Or those who don't close their work down as early as the Board?
"Parents in this county" indeed do complain when there is a good reason to do so. Some of us don't just sit down and shut up.
Since she is so honest the answer Amy Parrish gave at the Oconee County GOP meeting concerning the meeting time change appeal is now even more mysterious.

Anonymous said...

If you can't alter your family dinner plans for a once or twice a month board meeting at 6pm, you "obviously" want to complain more than actually attend the board meeting. Dinner at 7:30 tastes just fine as well.

People, please stop making these excuses about not being able to attend a 6pm board meeting if you don't want it at 5pm anymore as it currently is. If they hear you don't like the 6pm meeting time, they will just keep it at 5pm.

Bill Mayberry said...

I will add Ms. Parrish has calmly and respectfully answered my concerns.
She deserves high praise.

Cent said...

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