City working with school board on park property

By PAT BROWN,

The Simpson County School Board has instructed the City of Magee to submit a plan in writing as to what they would like to do in regard to the property known as Washington Park.

Alderman Patrick Brown, Recreation Director David Dunn and Mayor Dale Berry met with the school board at their board meeting last week to discuss the park as well as use of the high school baseball field in the  Magee’s sportsplex. 

According to Alderman Brown, the park is 12 acres and is located adjacent to the old Magee Elementary School.  The city has been maintaining the park for years.  The city has allocated $35,000 a year for the past two years to resurface the existing basketball courts as well as adding one additional court. Brown said the city does not want to invest that much money without an agreement. 

The district said they no longer have a use for that property.  The district has paid the city $15,000 a year for 10 years for construction of the ballfield that the high school uses at the sportsplex.  The last two years the fees were waived because of costs associated with the new elementary facility.  That would have had the district paying a total of $150,000 for the field,  which is maintained by the school district. 

The school board asked what the city was asking for.  City leaders asked for the district to give the property to the city since the school district no longer had a use for it.  Also the annual funding from the district for use of the field would cease in return for the property. 

The school board seemed  inclined to transfer the ownership of the property rather than a lease which would relieve them from future liability of the property.  Alderman Brown had initially asked for an interlocal agreement or a long term lease.

In other  business the board approved the minutes when they approved the hiring of superintendent Greg Paes for a period  of 18 months starting on January 1, 2020 through June 30 2021.  The terms of employment are not as of yet approved and will be approved at a future meeting.  All members of the board voted for the approval of hiring Paes for an additional 18 months. 

The board approved the proposal to move the existing bus barn in Mendenhall to Magee at the site of the Alternative School in Magee.  This will allow for the building of a new baseball field in Mendenhall as well as a girl’s softball field.  The board agreed to solicit bids for the project however final approval has not been given by the board.  This will come at board acceptance time. 

The board agreed to employee the services of Bailey Educational Services with the goal of developing a land use plan for the district. 

The P-16 Council reported from Magee.  Their major concern expressed was classroom size and the idea that if the school is under preforming that they need additional teachers.  Terrence Norwood, chairman of the P-16 committee told the board they have one teacher slotted for fifth grade but they need an additional teacher for sixth grade.  He said based on ratings the district should be looking at this as a necessity for the school since their performance is so low. 

Last month the council had suggested that the office on the campus should be moved.  Norwood reported that was at the discretion of the principal Tracye Pierre and he would discuss that recommendation with her. 

There will be a planned budget hearing for June 27 at 5 p.m.

The board approved the auctioning of equipment which included several old buses as well as other vehicles which belonged to the district which were deemed no longer serviceable. 

The board approved the personnel report submitted by Dr. Robert Sanders.  He told the board the district it much further along than in the past because of getting contracts out and approved earlier.  Sanders said his goal is to have all vacancies filled by June 10. 

The board approved hunting leases to Kenneth Whittington, Jimmy Mangum, Lee Jennings, Larry Walker, Gregory Magee, Limestone Hunting Club and Rambo Hunting Club.  The total revenue on these parcels is $16,347 lease prices ranged between $6 per acre to $12 per acre. 

The board made the decision there were to be no meals charged at the schools.  This prompted Archie Skiffer to tell the board that his church would no longer be donating funds to the district to pay for children who did not have money for meals at school.