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BoE approves $50 million budget
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Thursday’s meeting of the Bryan County Board of Education was highlighted by a review of recent test scores by Associate Superintendent John Oliver, board members approving the budget for fiscal year 2007 and the announcement of several new classes that will become available to students for the next school year.

The BoE has held many called meetings the past few months focusing on the budget, which is more than $50 million. The board members and school superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer each personally thanked BoE Finance Director Melanie James for her tedious work throughout this huge project and all seemed pleased with the final product, which was unanimously approved without debate.

Unlike municipal and county budgets, which start in January, the BoE budget takes effect in July. Brewer indicated that 85 percent of the BoE budget can be attributed to salaries and benefits for 854 employees in the Bryan County school system.

In some of her budget reports, James broke down the expenditures into three categories: projects completed, projects under contract and projects in the planning stages. The funds for these projects are financed via SPLOST II and local capital reserve. These projects, totaling more than $50.6 million, are not strictly financially tied to the 2008 fiscal year, but are all the projects currently on the table for the system.

Among the projects completed are a new parking lot and canopy for Lanier Primary, wing renovations for Richmond Hill and Bryan County Elementary Schools, classroom additions for both middle schools, track, tennis, baseball and parking lot projects for Bryan County High School, football, track, tennis and classroom addition projects for Richmond Hill High School, plus a variety of general equipment purchases for the system.

Among the projects currently under contract are the $14 million Richmond Hill Elementary School project, renovation of the Black Creek facility for administrative purposes, air conditioners in both high school gymnasiums, and $4.4 million in bond payments.

Among the projects in the planning stages are $5 million for a replacement middle school, $1.5 million classroom additions for both Richmond Hill Primary and Carver Elementary, land acquisition and preparation, enhancement of the Richmond Hill Middle athletic field and the BCHS greenhouse project.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the addition of ten new classes for high school students. Brewer noted that although some of the classes will be activated at just one end of the county or the other, the way is paved for the other end to begin the same courses when and if they find the need.

Among the new classes are German I and II, which will be introduced to RHHS starting in August. Oliver mentioned that many children from Bryan County reside at one point in their life in Germany due to having military parents who become stationed there. He also said the system is excited about now being able to help students who wish to learn a third language, as only Spanish and French have been previously available.

Bryan County High School will have a new course entitled "Career Connections" which Oliver said is a class for ninth graders which exposes them to all of the technical fields. The other new classes are: Oral/Written Communication, AP English Language, Athletic Training, Introductory Lifetime Sports, Intermediate Recreational Games, Physical Conditioning and Advanced Physical Conditioning.

In other business:

• A $10,000 donation from Atlantic Underground Utilities was accepted in order to erect a sponsorship sign near the BCHS football field.

• Many personnel changes were approved including the promotion of Richmond Hill Primary’s Teacher of the Year and RHHS softball coach Allen Cox to assistant director of administrative services.

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