Wheeler County Schools Awarded Two New Grants
Wheeler County School District is among three districts in the state to receive a grant that will go toward a middle school construction project. The $48,120 grant will fund the purchase tools for the middle school classrooms.
Additionally, the system has received a $10,000 StART grant to purchase instruments for the middle school band. Wheeler was among 20 school systems throughout the state to receive the grant. The Wheeler County Board of Education received the good news in its monthly session on October 16.
The two new grants come on the heels of a $175,000 allocation to the system announced last month. This allocation will fund a program promoting parent engagement. Wheeler County School District was among 74 Georgia districts to garner these funds, which are being made available through the Safer Georgia Schools. Specifically, the funds will support the implementation of FAST (Families and Schools Together), which is designed to make a significant, long-lasting impact on child and family behaviors.
Millage Rate Set
Also, during the October meeting of the Wheeler County Board of Education, the BOE approved the 2023 millage rate of 14.813, a rollback from the previous rate of 15.709. The Board approved its 2023-2024 budget at its June 12 session, and at that time deferred setting a millage rate until the finalization of the county’s tax digest. The rollback rate approved by the BOE reflects its response to the local increase in property taxes.
This school system’s $18.2 million 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.
Sale of Old Elementary School At its last session, the Board heard from Superintendent Couey about the proposed sale of the former elementary school property on Commerce Street in Alamo. The school was vacated when the system took possession of its new kindergarten- 12th grade school a few blocks away. Now, as the system incurs ongoing costs in maintaining the site, the Board is considering the future of the property. At its September session, the Board requested that Superintendent Couey explore selling the structure.
Couey said she has spoken with one party who is interested in purchasing the 15-acre site which includes the approximately 60,000-square-foot school, as well as a gymnasium. But the Board agreed that many questions need to be answered before the site can be sold, including whether the property will be divided to separate the gym from the rest of the site that is being sold, and whether the Board has the right of refusal of the sale if it deems the proposed property use is not appropriate for the residential neighborhood in which the property is located. The Board also discussed the need for a new survey of the property.
During the session, the Board heard from Sam Maier of Rebel Auctions in Hazlehurst, which has satisfactorily managed sales of surplus property for the school system. Davis said he would be available to assist the Board in determining a value for the site, as well as promoting and executing the on-line auction of the property. The matter was deferred pending input from Maier on the property’s value and other research. Bus Purchases, Hirings
In other business, the Board approved the purchase of two new school buses. Superintendent Couey said, “We had funding from the state for two more buses (per FY22-23) and have SPLOST funds to cover cameras and A/C for two more.” She said it takes about a year to receive the buses after ordering them. Cost of the buses is $267,780, with the local share amounting to $91,560.
The Board approved the following personnel changes: hiring Rhonda Weeks as a permanent food service employee. She had been approved last month as a substitute worker for food service. Also approved for hiring was Gloria Brown as a part-time custodian to assist until the regular employee for this post is able to return to work following a back injury.