Bartow Schools Conduct Second Ground Survey for Emerson Elementary
The school system also announces that open enrollment for health insurance benefits will begin in October.
During the Bartow County Board of Education work session Monday, the board discussed several of the system’s new school construction projects, with particular interest focused on the site planned for the new Emerson Elementary School.
Currently, the system awaits the results for a second geotechnical survey of the land and soil of the proposed Emerson Elementary, and received the “blow report” on the site Monday.
Superintendent John Harper said the system decided to conduct a second survey, “after something came back on the [first] report to be careful of the site.”
“We don’t want to put a school there if it’s not in good shape,” added Harper.
Harper said the new school site in Emerson had previously been surface mined, and that any concerns about the property come from it being filled in.
“We know more about what’s under the Emerson piece of property than any other piece of property we have, because I watched them fill in the mine and compact it, and they’ve been giving us compaction reports as well,” added Harper.
Rick Little, director of Construction and Planning, told the board on Monday the system was still awaiting the complete report for the second survey, but that the blow report, a study of the soil density, results indicted that the conditions for the site were “extremely good.”
The first erosion and sediment control plan review by the Coosa River Soil and Water Conservation District on Aug. 10 states in red letters, “The Coosa River Soil and Water Conservation District only reviews plans according to the approved GSWCC ES&PC plan review checklist. Since this property lies in an area that has been surface mined, the school system needs to do everything possible to make sure that the area being built on is structurally stable for building a school.”
Board Member Wanda Cagle Gray expressed her concerns over the word choice in the review by the CRSWCD, and questioned the board on what the phrase “everything possible” meant.
“That is scary for Bartow County Schools,” said Gray. “Does that mean the best two out of three, best three out of five? Do we spend $36,000 or do we spend $360,000?”
Harper said he assumed the phrase was “a word of caution” by the individual who looked at the engineering report, and said that many other local businesses are placed on similar sites.
“As we look at that particular site, if you go all the way from LongHorn’s to the car dealers and look at the McDonald’s in town, all that is reclaimed mining land and the same kind of thing that happened with [those lands] happened with the Emerson property.
The board is still waiting approval from the city of Emerson for the 46.95-acre site, said Little.
Also at this meeting:
- The board discussed the construction projects at other sites including the new Adairsville Middle and Cloverleaf Elementary. Little said there was no new developments for AMS but construction crews have been pouring the concrete slab for the school and that wing C is already being erected.
- Chief Financial Officer Todd Hooper said the books for fiscal year 2011 should be finalized in a few more weeks as the finance department finishes its final entries.
- Hooper added the system will be facing its annual benefit renewal process in October, which will include open enrollment for all employees. Hooper said he was pleased to tell the board that dental premiums will decrease after a change in providers and the annual benefit will go from $1,000 to $1,200 per individual. This change will also include an adjustment that orthodontics is included and there will be a no-late penalty for employees for dental coverage, so employees have full dental the minute they sign up for dental coverage. Hooper said there will be an open benefits meeting for system employees at one of the system's high schools.
- Hooper also discussed the current standings with the system’s fund balance with the board, and said that the system uses the fund balance to cover payroll when “local revenues are pretty depressed.” Hooper said the fund balance acts as a cushion to carry the system through the summer and first months of the year to be able to survive and make payroll. Hooper said the system has currently dipped into its fund balance by $6.2 million as county schools help keep federal programs afloat while the system awaits federal funding that will come later in the year.