Richmond County school trustees were leaning against adding a school to Fort Gordon and decided to hold off on changing how substitute teachers are paid when the board met at Thursday night.
Trustees met in committee at 7 p.m. and but did vote to send a letter of intent to Fort Gordon, agreeing to take the first steps toward building an elementary school on post in five years. The issue died for lack of a second and the full 10-member board was to discuss it at 8 p.m.
"I will be dissenting vigorously," said trustee Jeff Annis, commenting in a telephone interview on Thursday. He opposes the on-post school because he says it will not add to Richmond County's tax coffers and the military would require use of its access roads - that are shut down in times of security crises.
Other trustees support the on-post school, Fort Gordon's first, because it eliminates lengthy bus rides for military children, who now travel to schools far off post. These trustees also point out the fort adds about $700,000 to the school system budget in federal impact aid dollars, funds paid to cities to make up for the property taxes communities cannot collect from military bases.
"I think it's a good idea," trustee Cherie Foster said earlier in the week. "They'll fill up a school, pretty much, even though we'll probably pull in some (students) from the outside."
In committee, trustees decided not to bring up how substitute teachers are paid, because two board members were absent Thursday. The personnel committee will study proposed changes to the substitute pay and the board will vote on the issue in September.
Superintendent Charles Larke had called for reducing the amount long-term substitutes earn after working 20 consecutive days in the same classroom, in the wake of at least $96,000 in overpayments to 39 substitutes.
Previously, substitutes were paid based on their teaching experience and certificates on the 21st day in the same job, earning $122 or $133 a day, for example. Under Dr. Larke's policy, such long-term substitutes would earn only as much as $75 a day after the 16th consecutive day on the job.
In committee, trustees approved promoting two teachers to be assistant principals at middle schools, completing a summer-long shift in administrators. If the full board agrees, Terry McMullen, now a teacher at Glenn Hills Middle School, will become that school's assistant principal and Coren Wilson, now a teacher at T.W. Josey High School, will become assistant principal at Murphey Middle School.
Trustees also needed to vote on adding a pilot program to give eighth graders credit for taking Algebra I a year early.
Earlier Thursday, trustees joined an estimated 4,500 teachers, principals and other school employees at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center for a back-to-school rally to pump the educators up for the new school year. Part of the morning activities included plaques and surprise awards of $500-$2,000 to 42 of 58 schools whose test scores rose 5 percent in any grade level.
"It was just like a party for the Super Bowl," Dr. Larke said of the rally.