Pike County Times
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School Board Discusses Capital Improvements Bond Referendum
Voters Decide Yes or No on November 3rd

ZEBULON - The Pike County Board of Education held an informational session about the proposed bond referendum that is on the November ballot before school began. Voters will be given the opportunity to vote yes or no on the Capital Improvements Bond Referendum on November 3, 2015.

Discussion centered around needs for the Pike County School System like the high school, stadium upgrades, needs for the current track and tennis courts, and a new softball field at the middle school.

9th Grade Academy

The high school is currently at capacity. 10 modular buildings could be brought in, the high school could expand and put another story on top of the current building--to the tune of about $6 million or Pike County could begin a 9th Grade Academy. This would allow students to learn with their peers and save the county $4 million dollars. It will cost roughly $1.87 million to renovate rather than $6 million to build up a second story on the current high school. It would cost $60 million for a new high school. This part of the proposal is looking to eliminate the over population in the high school.

Pike Annex "Building B" next to the auditorium will be the site of the 9th Grade Academy. The facility will need classroom modifications, upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, new floors and ceilings, painting, parking area upgrades, a new fire alarm system, a new intercom system, and technology upgrades. The goal of the 9th Grade Academy will be to create an instructional program that will help ensure that students are on track for the 10th grade.

Dr. Duncan also discussed the 9th Grade Academy. He said that sometimes it is not always about money and that sometimes it is about doing what is right for our children. He told those listening that 9th grade is where drop outs begin because they start to disengage. Because this will be be separate from the rest of the high school, plans are to have ten of our innovative teachers to design what this will be so we can do things differently than a regular high school setting in order to set them on track to graduate when they leave the 9th grade.

He said that there will be an emphasis on innovated technology and that the 9th Grade Academy would only use half of the school now. The school system is also looking at an online Charter High School (virtual) with dual enrollment with Southern Crescent in the future as well. He said that the school system is looking to be flexible and help students graduate through flexible programs that provide opportunities that they don't have now.

The PreK would move to the Memorial Annex by Ruth's Restaurant and the 9th Grade Academy would be in the current PreK building. There are plans to move the Board of Education to the Memorial Annex at some point in the future as well. Those in attendance were advised that contractors have assured the school that by the Fall of 2016, the 9th Grade Academy will be open prompting the Board of Education to put this on the ballot in November instead of waiting until next year.

Stadium Upgrades

Stadium upgrades are badly needed. A new ticket booth and press box are needed as well as permanent restrooms on both the visitor and home sides of the field. ADA upgrades will be added to make the facility accessible to everyone and new concessions areas on the list for upgrades as well.

Those in attendance at this meeting were told that football stadium could be done by the following season if the vote is approved in November. It was noted that the stadium is a multi-use area that also serves soccer.

Track Upgrades

The current track needs to be resurfaced and restriped and field event stations need to be installed for the shot put, long jump, etc. Pike County cannot even host track meets at this time because of the condition of the track.

Tennis Court Upgrades

The tennis courts need to be resurfaced and restriped at the high school as well as purchasing new nets and posts. Pike County cannot host tennis events at this time because of the condition of the courts.

Middle School Softball Field

A new softball field is also on the list for the middle school. This would involve new field construction, fencing, lighting, a public address system, scoreboards, and dug outs.

School Buses

The school system needs new buses for safety and mechanical reasons. The Board of Education plans to buy 10 new school buses from funds provided with this Capital Improvements Referendum. Our average bus is 10 years old with many being over this. Some of our buses are 20-22 years old. Maintenance costs rise with age and many of the repairs are about one-half of the cost of a new bus.

Charlie Garrard said that we are running on a lean budget for our buses. He said that a majority of our parents do not want to primary kids on the school buses with high school students, and he also noted that there has been a 300% decrease in discipline since splitting up into two routes.

A question was asked where we do with mid-size buses in some areas but the questioner was advised that a big bus costs less than the smaller buses. The new buses would replace the oldest buses in the fleet and provide safe and reliable transportation for students.

Why A Bond Referendum

Those attending were told that to renew the current bond and add .8 mills would be enough to cover the problem of growth and where to house students and take care of needs at within the school system. The Board of Education is trying to do this bond with a small increase and do what is needed.

It was noted that Pike County gets very few federal dollars because we are not a poverty level county, and we do not have a Walmart like Upson County. Unfunded mandates were a part of the discussion as well. The state didn’t stop sending us stuff to do, but they told us to keep doing this even though we are not giving us money. This hits rural counties like Pike hard because we don’t have industry or businesses like other counties. The Board of Education could have pushed up the millage rate but chose not to. It was noted in the meeting that Pike County has lost over $7 million since 2006 from the state of Georgia. [Note from the Editor: Paragraph has been edited for clarity.]

Greg Parrott was asked to speak about things that he has seen while he has been here. "Pike is a mirror of Fayette 40 years ago because no industry there." He also noted that the school is the largest employer in the county. He said that his kids went here to school, and he wants a good education for kids now and maybe even his grandkids later. "We need to do this for our kids."


Why can't ESPLOST fund this? It was explained in the meeting that thee E-SPLOST was set up in a Phase 1, Phase 2 process so that taxpayers wouldn’t be left holding the bag. It was said that the Board made a wise decision by doing. The flier on the proposed referendum addressed this more indepth by saying that the ESPLOST (a one cent tax for education) cannot fund these improvements because it was divided into two phases with phase one including a $2 million technology upgrade, an Agricultureal STEM building, HVAC renovation, roof repairs, and renovations necessary to reopen the auditorium.

From the flyer: "The recession lessened the amoung of sales revenue collections by almost 1/3 (20%), which did not provide enough revenue to complete phase two projects. ESPLOST does not end for another 3 years but can only be used for the planned projects." [Note from the Editor: 1/3 comes to 20% of the total amount of the project and makes it more clear.]


Initial estimates on the current projects are for a little over $7 million, and this bond referendum will be for 12 years. Current tax millage will go toward the current bond referendum. The bond referendum that paid for Pike County High School in 1996 will be paid off this year and collection will discontinue for this project at that time. [Note from the Editor: Paragraph has been edited for clarity.]

Board members were asked if there will be a priorities list set in stone. Dr. Duncan said that if this referendum is approved, they will get all of the bid packets ready between November and December and will have an idea of how much it will cost. He said that some things may have to be scaled back, but that they want to do everything to the best of their funding ability.

Board member Ryan Edge said that at the end of the day, it’s about education. "We have looked at this from all angles and feel like this is the best thing for the county." He said that everyone but working together can do great things for our students.

The voting ballot will have a simple yes or no question on it for voters when it comes to the bond referendum. To see a copy of the notice on this referendum that has been running in the Pike Journal Reporter as required by law, click here and click here to see a copy of the bond brochure.

Click here to read about the upcoming election.

[Note from the Editor: All changes to this article have been noted in blue and the article was updated with this changes on 10.5.15.]