Originally created 01/07/97

Columbia School Board picks leaders

APPLING - The Columbia County school board unanimously chose Ray Hicks as its chairman Monday and Debbi Brooks as its vice chairwoman, both freshman elected in November.

The board also itemized and tentatively agreed on a $40 million sales tax referendum plan that may lower the millage rate by 1.25 mills next year. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Evans High to discuss the referendum to be voted on in March.

Mr. Hicks, a former Evans High principal, said he was looking forward to the coming year and felt the first meeting of the year was productive.

Ms. Brooks, a retired nurse and housewife, assumed the vice chair by edging out Trustee Jean Smith, who made her wish to be an officer known since November.

"I didn't have all the votes," said Ms. Smith. "That's understandable. I'm satisfied with the outcome. I think we got a lot done tonight."

The two new officers replace former Chairman Mike Annis, who assumes regular trustee duties and former Vice Chairman Larry Ogletree, who chose not to seek reelection to the school board.

The board outlined the building projects it plans to accomplish during the next five years if the sales tax referendum passes county voters' approval March 18.

The list includes in order of priority:

- A $330,000 computer and technology lab at Lakeside High.

- A purchase of up to $1 million of land in Grovetown for a middle school and possible elementary school to be completed sometime after the year 2002. The school board is favoring a 100-acre site near Old Thomson Road and Harlem Grovetown Road but haven't made a decision.

- Stadium improvements at the county's four high schools totaling $1.85 million.

- Classroom additions at Blue Ridge Elementary School totaling $1.17 million.

- A new $11.4 million middle school at the Greenbrier high and elementary schools complex.

- About $250,000 of renovations for Crossroads alternative school to move to a Grovetown location.

The board will use funds expected to be $7.5 million a year from the sales tax to help retire debt from past building projects.

The plan the board is pursuing would cut into property taxes by 3.25 mills next year, which would offset an expected 2 mill increase needed to cover an increase in the operating budget.

The board will vote Jan. 14 on a sales tax referendum plan it will present to voters in March.


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