Brewton BOE looks at funding options for new TRM

Published 1:38 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Brewton City School Board may consider an option to borrow from themselves in regard to funding the construction planned for T.R. Miller High School.

Elaine Cato with BankTrust of Brewton presented information concerning the possibility of borrowing funds from the Brewton City board of Education Oil and Gas Severance Trust.

“This fund was started in 1993 with an investment of $306,000 and has grown to $9 million,” Cato told the board. You have the option to borrow from yourself with this fund. It’s legal, you have the right to do it and it won’t come back to haunt anyone.”

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School board president Stephanie Walker suggested the choices available to the board with the presentation gives a better look at options available to fund the construction.

“Looking at this, I have a much clearer point to see what we’ve made and what we’ve got in the fund,” Walker said. “Our goal is to preserve that $9 million. These are different times and we have to look at things differently to consider all of our options.”

Cato said discussions with Superintendent Lynn Smith have given them a chance to crunch numbers to see what options lie in the best interest of the board for the construction funding.

“We’ve discussed taking funds within the agency account and do a loan to the school system,” Cato said. “There is no problem in approving the loan from the trust to fund the building of the school. You have the option to set your own interest rates to repay the loan and at what schedule you will repay it. You can set any rate and any repayment schedule you want with this option.”

Smith said he would be meeting with bank officials to discuss options and would schedule an additional workshop for the board to explore those options.

“We will have another work session with Walter Lewis to discuss the aspects of the loan,” Smith said. “We could do that at our next meeting in February.”

No action on the loan possibility was taken by the board at the end of the discussion.

In other business of the board, members approved a school calendar for the 2013-14 school year.

“We wanted to keep things as close to W.S. Neal’s schedule as possible,” Smith told the board. “We met with the committee Jan. 2 to discuss plans for the upcoming school year and this calendar is my recommendation to you.”

Smith said school would begin Aug. 19 — the first day possible to return by state law — and would match the county school system’s calendar exactly.

“Our first semester would be 85 days and would end on Dec. 20,” Smith said. “Teachers would come back on Jan. 3, 2014 with students returning on Jan. 14.”

Smith said the second semester would end with graduation on May 30 with holidays including President’s Day, spring break, Good Friday and Memorial Day.

“State law requires that we take off Memorial Day,” Smith said. “This will be the first time in a long time that we’ve come back after Memorial Day to finish up a school year. That would mean coming back for three days to complete semester testing and hold graduation.”

The school calendar was unanimously approved by members of the board.

The board also heard discussion from Smith concerning mandated training and education concerning concussions and brain injury.

“This would be required of all physical education teachers as well as coaches,” Smith said. “Coach (Jamie) Riggs already errs on the side of caution when it comes to possible concussions. This training would be an on-line situation and would be beneficial for the students and the system.”