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Lee County school board approves lease purchasing financing

WALTER LITTRELL • Jan 8, 2007 at 10:57 AM

JONESVILLE - The Lee County School Board on Monday approved a resolution approving equipment lease purchase financing by the school board, although the resolution did not pass unanimously.

In making the motion to adopt the resolution, board member Pete Sumpter remarked that approving it would allow the board to assist all schools in the county and that the board seldom gets an opportunity to help all schools at once. Although he observed that there has been some negative comment about the board's plans in regard to the resolution, Sumpter said he believes it presents a win-win situation for everybody.

The resolution is in relation to an energy audit recently completed for the school system by Trane, a division of American Standard Inc. The company and the board entered an agreement in October in which if the board adopts certain energy savings practices recommended by the audit, and the implementation does not cause a savings of more than the cost of implementing, Trane will pay the difference.

During discussion of Sumpter's motion, board member Phil Hensley said that he is one of those who is negative about the agreement because it will require the board to borrow $2.3 million without permission of the Board of Supervisors. He also pointed out that bids were not taken on the equipment to obtain the lowest possible cost. Hensley also said the resolution will cause the board to borrow the money at an interest rate of 6.5 percent.

"Why not borrow it at 2 percent from the literary fund?" he asked.

He then answered his own question by saying, "because it requires approval of the Board of Supervisors."

Superintendent Fred Marion then read from the resolution to point out that "all amounts payable by the school board under the agreement are subject to receipt of sufficient appropriations by the Board of Supervisors of Lee County ... upon the request of the school board, and neither the Board of Supervisors nor the school board are under any obligation to make any appropriation with respect to the agreement. The agreement is neither a general obligation of the school board or of Lee County ... nor a pledge of the full faith and credit of the school board or of the county, nor a charge against the general credit or taxing power of the county, and amounts payable by the school board under the agreement do not constitute a debt of the school board or the county within the meaning of any constitutional, charter or statutory limitation."

Sumpter then said that the state legislature "says it is OK" and called for a vote on the matter.

Hensley reminded Chairman Donnie Brooks that the motion required a roll-call vote, and when the vote was taken, Hensley cast the only dissenting vote.

In other matters, the board voted Brooks in as chairman for the upcoming year, Sumpter as vice chairman, and to keep meetings on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. The board scheduled a public hearing for input on the 2007-08 budget for Feb. 5 at 6:45 p.m. Later the board agreed to change the February meeting from Feb. 12 to Feb. 5.

The board approved a motion declaring January as Reading Month and approved the calendar for the upcoming academic year. The calendar calls for school to open on Aug. 16 with the first day off for Labor Day on Sept. 3. Schools will also be closed for Election Day on Nov. 6, and Thanksgiving break will be Nov. 19-23. Christmas break is scheduled for Dec. 24 through Jan. 7. Schools will be closed Feb. 15-18 for Presidents Day, spring break will be March 21-30, and classes end on May 28.

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