Voters will see bond on ballot

The Columbia County school board decided Wednesday to bring a $45 million bond referendum before voters in the July primary.

Officials said the bond would help start construction on a new Columbia Middle School, repair existing schools, make technology improvements and purchase school buses.

It would be repaid with proceeds from a renewal of 1 percent sales tax also likely going before voters July 20.

With estimated earnings between $108 million and $130 million collected from 2012-17, the sales tax would be used to pay off bond debt, replace Evans and Martinez elementary schools and potentially replace North Columbia Elementary, North Harlem Elementary, South Columbia Elementary, Harlem Middle and the alternative school.

Board members also decided to promote Lakeside High School Principal Jeff Carney to assistant superintendent. He will replace Lauren Williams, associate superintendent of student learning, who is retiring.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of Carney, with board member Mike Sleeper the dissenting vote. Sleeper would not comment after the meeting on his reasons for voting against Carney's promotion.

Superintendent Charles Nagle said he recommended Carney for assistant superintendent because of his ability to build consensus with teachers and his record of innovation for improving learning.

A graduate of Evans High School, Carney has worked in the Columbia County school system for 21 years, 16 years as an administrator.

Carney said he looks forward to making a larger contribution to the school system and "can't wait to get started doing that."

Williams' last day is May 31, but Carney said he didn't know when he will assume his new role.

Though he will immediately start a transition process for his move to the central office, Carney said he first will need to make sure Lakeside is prepared for the upcoming school year.

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