According to Cherokee County School Board members and Superintendent Kay Davis, Cherokee County’s revenues from the Three Corners Landfill have steadily declined since the landfill officially began operations.
“Earlier today, the Cherokee County Board of Education asked the Cherokee County Circuit Court for permission to intervene in the class action lawsuit filed against the operators of the Three Corners Landfill, the individual defendant companies that set up the landfill, and against former Probate Judge Phillip Jordan,” said Mrs. Davis. “The complaint alleges that the Board and the Citizens of Cherokee County have been damaged by the fraud, conspiracy and complicity of the former Probate Judge, by Clayton ‘Lanny’ Young and by the companies that have operated the Landfill.”
By Resolution of the County Commission, one third of all landfill revenues were to be allocated to the Board of Education for the benefit of the children of Cherokee County. The Board had previously authorized its attorneys to begin drafting pleadings to intervene in the pending suit.
“The Board considered its options and felt that, as elected officials charged with the responsibility of education the children of this county, our formal participation in the lawsuit was necessary,” said Joy Perry, the Board’s President. “The money, which was apparently used to buy public influence, should have gone to improve classrooms, fix roofs and buy books for our students, not into the pockets of politicians. Our children were simply too important for the Board to sit idly by and wait to see what happens. We wanted a voice in the proceedings, so that our interests and the students’ interests would be considered.”
Tommy McDaniel, a past president and current member of the Board of Education and current president of the Alabama Association of School Boards, added, “As elected officials, we have an obligation to look after the best interest of the students that we serve and the taxpayers of Cherokee County. We, as board members, feel accountable for our actions, and we want to aggressively seek any money that may be due to the Cherokee County School System.”
Cherokee County Administrator Tim Burgess said that one third of the landfill proceeds goes toward the Cherokee County Board of Education, one third goes into the general fund and the other third goes to the Cherokee County Highway Department.
According to county records, the county has derived some $2,128,786.13 in revenues from the landfill during its six years in operation.
“We perceive that we have lost much, much more that we could have received,” said Mrs. Davis.
Mrs. Davis said these monies have consistently dwindled over the years. According to Robin Cunningham, custodian of funds for Cherokee County Schools, Cherokee County received $109,514.72 from the landfill proceeds in 2000, $121,133.25 in 2001, $62,130.08 in 2002, $40,245 in 2003, zero funds in 2004 and $15,864.31 for Fiscal 2005.
On another matter, Board Member Tommy McDaniel asked for local support in opposing a law mandating the starting date of the school year for local school systems.
“The upcoming legislative session starts in February,” said McDaniel. “There is going to be a push to have a law passed to mandate when we start school. This is being promoted by the tourism industry primarily and they have a lot of strong allies. This is just another example of the state and other special interest groups trying to take lay control of schools away from the local communities and local boards. I would like to urge each and every one of you to contact our senators, Rep. Richard Lindsey and help overthrow and defeat this proposal. We need to have some say-so in what we do and how we run our school system instead of the state trying to mandate how we run our school system. That is the purpose of lay control that we can run our board the way that we see fit to be done.”
“In the last legislative system, I spoke before a legislative committee in support of the board’s having control over when we start school,” said Kay Davis, superintendent, Cherokee County Schools. “Superintendents were lined up on this side, tourism was lined up on this side and I had one man say something that just blew me away. He said, ‘We can’t find babysitters if school’s not in session.’ I said, ‘Excuse me, we are not running a babysitting service, we are educating children.’ But there is a real push not to start school until after Labor Day because of the tourism dollars they say we are losing. And if we start after Labor Day, we will be ending in June. Like Mr. McDaniel said, please contact your representatives to voice your opposition.”
Davis was pleased to report that most parents, teachers and students enjoyed the recent fall break.
During the meeting, the board interviewed six candidates for the Sand Rock School Principal’s position, which will be vacated when Current Prinicipal Brian Johnson begins his duties as superintendent for Cherokee County Schools in January.
The candidates included Dr. Trina Fortner Gifford who currently works in the central office; Brian Mackey, assistant principal, Sand Rock Elementary School; Tony Bright, assistant principal, Sand Rock High School; Ben East, assistant principal, Cherokee County High School; Randy Smith, a teacher at Sand Rock School and Wendy Robertson who is also a teacher at Sand Rock School.
The board met in executive session for four disciplinary hearings and following the hearings, voted to place one student in in school suspension for nine weeks with probation, to place one student in the alternative school for nine weeks and to place one student in the alternative school for the remainder of the school year. One student failed to show up for the hearing, Mrs. Davis said.
In personnel action, the board:
-approved changing Jan Blalock, paraprofessional at Centre Elementary School, from a seven-hour contract to an eight-hour contract effective Aug. 16, 2004 and approved Linda Spellman as an ISS aide at Centre Elementary School, retroactive to Aug. 26, 2004.
-approved out-of-state travel for Jim Silver who will attend the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, Ga. Oct. 19-21.
-accepted bids on the Centre Middle School walking track from B&W Paving, Inc. for $12,082, on CNP Washers(2) from David’s Appliance for $449 each and a floor scrubber for Cedar Bluff School from Etowah Chemical for $3,565.
napproved allowing Cherokee County High School Band Boosters to construct a new concession stand at no cost to the board.