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School board briefs

February 14, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Board to discuss new election process



Washington County Board of Education members will discuss a possible change to the way they are elected during their business meeting Tuesday.

The county's state legislators agreed last week to file a bill that could lead to a ward system for the school board. Voters would vote in the November 2008 general election on a referendum changing the school board's structure.

By voting in favor, residents would authorize a task force to recommend a total or partial ward system.

The Board of Education has not publicly spoken in favor or opposition of the bill, but in the past has opposed a similar piece of legislation.

Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham was opposed to discussing the possible change during next week's business meeting.

"I'm not in favor of doing it in public at this time," she said.

Callaham said the issue is "sensitive," some comments could be misinterpreted and the conversation might not be as "robust" as one done in private.

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Construction funding process discussed



Washington County Commissioners said Tuesday they favored spending more on school construction upfront and getting more money from the state later.

Commissioners told the Board of Education to consider bids for upcoming school construction at the prevailing wage. At the prevailing wage, the state would pay up to 65 percent of the cost, and the county would pay the remaining 35 percent.

At the nonprevailing wage, the state participation would drop to 49 percent.

The low bid recently received for a new elementary school opening in the Westfields community at the prevailing wage was nearly $16 million. At the nonprevailing wage, it was $15 million.

Commissioners said they were willing to spend $1 million now to receive about $2 million more from the state.

"Even though it is difficult to stomach," said Commissioner William J. Wivell.

Washington County Public Schools staff said that bids for Westfields elementary school were about $3 million less than anticipated.

"It's very good news for us right now," said Boyd Michael, assistant superintendent for school operations.

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