The Tallapoosa County Board of Education did not approve its capital plan Tuesday night due to the agenda item dying on the floor.
Board member Betty Carol Graham first brought up concerns about a $104,681 expenditure and a $9,000 expenditure because she wasn’t clear what they were for when the board was preparing to approve payment of bills.
Financial administrative assistant Mike Gardner explained the $104-plus expense is for pre-architectural drawings at Reeltown and Dadeville elementary schools and Dadeville High School and the $9,000 expense is for a topographical survey for situating the new school in Reeltown.
Graham said it had been previously discussed all construction projects were going to be kept separately on the item lists so board members can clearly see what has been spent with the 1-cent sales tax. Gardner agreed to do this in the future and also supply board members with invoices.
The board approved payment of the bills with the expectation the specific information it requested will be supplied to board members in the future.
“From this point forward we should know exactly what these fees are for,” Graham said. “Future information (on construction items) will be separate data so it can be tracked and we can have complete transparency.”
Board member Matilda Woodyard-Hamilton echoed Graham’s sentiments by saying she’d like to make sure the information promised to the board is provided moving forward.
Board member Carla Talton said she had asked for architectural plans as they become available and recommended the rest of the board members get the same for all plans in the future.
“I think we all need to have copies of any plans as they become available so that as these things come up we know what we’re looking on, what we’re voting on,” Talton said.
Director of student services Casey Davis said he will relay that message so board members can stay in the loop.
The capital plan was presented to board members to approve sending it to the state but board members were under the impression the copy presented at Tuesday’s meeting for approval was different than the one previously presented to the Tallapoosa County Commission.
Graham was concerned some items were incomplete or not what she remembered reviewing in the past. Davis explained it could have been a matter of the plan not printing in its entirety due to a printing issue.
Davis explained each item on the wish list cannot happen without board approval.
“It’s simply a wish list,” Davis said. “Approving anything on this list would not give anyone permission to do anything.”
Superintendent Joe Windle, who was not at the meeting due to being out of town at a superintendents’ conference, said transparency is not new for the school system.
“Accountability and transparency did not start for the county school system with the reading of the resolution extending the tax for 30 years at the August commissioners’ meeting,” Windle said in a statement. “We have been accounting for every dollar, providing monthly reports to the commission and posting the information on multiple communications platforms from the beginning.”
Windle said the commission and school board both recognized the need for strict accountability and transparency.
He said the 2015 resolution stated the school board will establish a separate budget account to manage the sales tax revenue so it will be transparent to everyone and updated monthly on the Tallapoosa County website.
“We have provided the county commission monthly reports on collections usage and savings,” chief schools financial officer Tommy Thweatt said in a statement. “Our board has been very engaged in oversight and approving projects involving these tax dollars. Every dollar collected has been accounted for.”
The Tallapoosa County Commission amended language in the 1-cent sales tax resolution passed in August to allow long-term debt financing at its meeting Tuesday.
In other action, the board also:
• Approved the financial report
• Approved employment
• Approved out-of-state/overnight trips
• Approved state textbook list
• Approved minutes
• Recognized school board members Graham, Talton and Woodyard-Hamilton for academy achievements
• Honored retiring Dadeville Police Department chief David Barbour with a resolution
• Approved Oct. 23 through Nov. 1 as Red Ribbon Week which is an alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign
• Approved Oct. 21-25 as School Bus Safety Week and honored bus drivers who were in attendance at the meeting
• Approved October as Dyslexia Awareness Month
• Approved selection of Talton for delegate for the Alabama Association of School Boards’ December conference with Michael Carter as the alternate and Woodyard-Hamilton on standby if Carter cannot attend