2009-12-31 / Front Page

Ongoing issues with leaky school roofs, tardy tax collections vex school board

By KIP BURKE News Editor

In its regular December meeting December 21, the Wilkes County Board of Education reviewed ongoing issues with construction and paying for the new school complex and discussed ongoing tax collection problems.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rosemary Caddell reported that the roof on the new school’s gym had been repaired by the contractor. “They repaired spots on both the flat roof and the pitched portion, and they thought it was fixed,” she said. “But when it rained hard we saw that it still leaks. And now there’s a leak in the cafeteria’s roof.”

The roofing contractor was continuing to seal the leaks, she said.

Board of Education Chairman Ricky Callaway, Vice-chairman Andrew Jackson, and members Kay Finnell, Bob Guin, and Steve Albertson met with Caddell, attorney Jim Roberts and finance officer Elaine Wheatley.

In old issues, Caddell said, school complex engineer Southern A&E had just submitted an invoice for some $36,492 in “past due” invoices. “This is the first notice we’ve gotten on any money owed,” she said. “I don’t believe there is any money past due. I’ll talk to them.”

The state board has certified the new school as complete, she said, so the system is due the state’s $600,000 payment.

Because of the delay in county tax collections, the school system has opened a $1 million line of credit at a local bank. Caddell said that due to some local tax money coming in, the system had to draw down only $195,000 for December expenses.

In her financial report, Wheatley reported that the school system has two more months’ operating expenses available in the line of credit.

The board opened two bids for a walkway to the new Tiger field house behind the school complex. HB&H Concrete Construction bid $10,400 to do the work, and Two State Construction bid $21,768. Callaway suggested that the facilities director review the bids and check references. The contract was tabled for evaluation.

At the beginning of the meeting, Caddell reported to the board that she had met with Geoff Burkart, president of The Guardian Center, and had given him a set of plans for the old Gordon Street school property, on which he is seeking to establish a new homeland security

training center. The board had agreed in April that The Guardian Center would be a good fit for the old school complex, but frustrations and delays have put at least some of the financing for the project in jeopardy. Local officials say the training center would bring jobs and millions in economic impact to Wilkes County each year, and each of the school board members has spoken in support of The Guardian Center coming to Wilkes County.

Due to conflicts with national holidays, the January and February Wilkes County Board of Education meetings will be held on the fourth Mondays – January 25 and February 22 – at 7 p.m., rather than the usual third Mondays.

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