Chambers County School Board swears in new member

Published 6:54 am Friday, November 20, 2020

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Wednesday’s Chambers County School Board meeting was the first meeting after the Nov. 2 election, which meant board members Candace Lyons and Jay Siggers were both sworn into their positions.

Lyons was reelected while Siggers is now in his first term on the board.

Wednesday was also Chambers County School Board Vice-President Mary Terry’s final board meeting. Terry had served on the board for 18 years but wanted to step away to spend more time with her family.

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“I’d like to say thank you for all the support everyone has given me over the years,” Terry said. “Not only has this been some enjoyable, some stressful, but I have felt it an honor to be able to serve Chambers County for the teachers, the faculty and the children of Chambers County. I know God had me here for that reason, and I continue to pray for Chambers County, that we will always do things that unify us not tear us down. That we will speak in unity and not in division.”

Superintendent Kelli Hodge presented Terry with a brick from the old central office that had an inscription on with her name and amount of years she served with the Chambers County Board of Education.

“She has been a faithful board member,” Hodge said. “Mary has led with her heart, her heart for kids. She has family that still works here in the school district, so she’s still going to be connected to us. I know that her heart is still with the kids and employees of the Chambers County School District. We love you very much, and I appreciate everything that you have done as a board member.”

With a new term starting, the board needed to elect its president and vice president. William Martin was named president for the 19th year in a row, while Jefferey Finch was named vice president.

With Wednesday’s board meeting taking place after the election of incoming superintendent Casey Chambley, the board created a committee to discuss the superintendent’s salary for the next term.

Lyons, Martin and Finch were the three board members on the committee. They presented the board members with a salary of $115,000 that will last until 2024. It does not include a pay raise due to the finalization of an added degree.

“We put a lot of thought into this,” Finch said. “It’s applicable to districts the size of Chambers County.”

Any pay raises would come from the state, as Chambley is applicable to receive raises that teachers receive.

The salary was approved 4-2 by the board.

The board also approved most of the routine personnel changes for the school district, with the exception of three positions. It was a 5-1 vote.

The board also tabled finalizing the job description of the Human Resources/ Payroll Manager until Chambley takes office in January. Once again, it was passed in a 5-1 vote.

When reading through the 2020 fiscal year financial statements, Hodge announced that the district’s actual ending fund balance was $5.486 million, which includes the refinanced bond issue.

“We had budgeted that at $2.6 million, so we ended the year with 2.22 months operating balance,” Hodge said.

The state requires a school district to have at least a month’s worth of operating balance.

The district also announced that it had a profit of $7,900 from its summer feeding program, because the meals that were given out during March, April and May were included in the summer program compared to the in-school feeding program.

“We’ve never done summer feeding as a way to make money,” Hodge said. “It’s more about providing the service, but you certainly don’t want to lose money.”

The debt for the district is currently $9.253 million. Hodge said that the debt will decrease between Wednesday and July 1, as some debts are scheduled to payout.

Hodge also announced that the district would soon be sending out surveys to parents, asking if virtual students wish to return to campus during the second semester.

“We are getting ready to send that survey out again so the schools can be prepared because school goes very quickly from Thanksgiving to Christmas,” Hodge said. “They have to be prepared when those kids come back in January.”