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It’s Back to No Cell Phones Allowed at Wheeler School

Students will not be allowed to bring cell phones to school per a change in the school handbook approved Monday, July 10, by the Wheeler County Board of Education at the regular monthly meeting.

“This has been our policy every year except for last year when we tried letting students use cell phones at breaks, lunch, and in between classes,” said Wheeler Schools Superintendent Suzanne Couey. School administrators discovered that “it just works better to ban the phones entirely,” Couey said.

Budget Approved, Millage Deferred In other business, the Board approved the $18.2 million budget for 20232024 but delayed action on setting the millage rate.

The Board approved the proposed budget at its June 12 session and scheduled hearings on June 20 and June 27 for public comments. No objections to the proposed budget were made by the public during these hearings.

The budget calculates expenditures of $16.6 million. The bulk of the new budget is allocated to instructional expenses with $6,575,209 to be paid from the system’s general fund and $1,769,757 to be paid from special revenue. The budget includes $2,000 pay raises for teachers and other certified educational, supportive and administrative staff, a 5.1% raise for other employees, and an increase of $1,000 for bus driver supplements.

Of the total anticipated revenue of $18.2 million, $2.2 million will come from local property taxes, and $7.6 million will be funded through QBE. The remainder of revenue will come from other local receipts and federal and state resources.

The Board received information from Superintendent Suzanne Couey about recent property assessments and millage rate adoption for 2023. Couey presented preliminary tax digest figures and the estimated rollback rate that would be recommended due to an increase in property values. As figures were only preliminary, no action was taken. Both Superintendent Couey and the Board agreed they would approve a lower millage rate due to a digest increase but would not be able to determine the amount until the tax digest is finalized.

Other Matters

The Board reviewed and approved its public participation policy and procedures without making any changes, and approved a memorandum of understanding with Coastal Plains School which operates satellite schools in several counties after regular school hours. Coastal Plains provides alternative education for high school students who have dropped out of school and want to return, or for those who cannot attend during regular class times.


The Board approved hiring the following former employees who have retired and are returning at a 49% salary rate: Pat Ethredge, Hal Ford, Angie Smith, Ken Pack, and Patricia Powell. The Board approved hiring Brittany Ford and Deanna Soreanno as substitute teachers, and accepted the resignations of Laurie Smith, first grade teacher, and Danielle Fowler, paraprofessional.

The next Board session is scheduled for August 14 at :30 p.m. at the Board office in Alamo.

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