Increased water rates cause concern at Central High

Posted in: News
By Todd Brooks
Jun 13, 2013 - 8:53:40 AM

Stephens County Rural Water District (RWD) No. 5 representatives were present to give their side, but Superintendent Bennie Newton made sure they knew the school district’s position about increasing water rates.
“We can’t afford that much of an increase at one time,” Newton said. “That is a teacher’s salary.”
If the district’s usage remains the same, expenses will increase from $8,000 to $31,000 annually.
 “This is the worst time for the new rates to begin,” Newton said. “We water the football, baseball, softball and practice fields during the summer. We don’t want the kids playing on dead grass.”
The representatives – district manager Brett Kimbro, and RWD board members James Harmon and Jerry Williams – explained to the board.
“We lost money,” Harmon stated. “We are a non-profit company and we put everything we get back into the system. We can’t continue to lose money. Water is a precious commodity.”  
Newton said he understood the need for an increase, but getting it all at once was troubling.
“We already have our budget set for next year,” he said. “We can’t afford that much of a jump in prices.”
The representatives said they were unaware the budget had already been set and thought they had warned the school district in plenty of time.
Kimbro said the school district has not had a rate increase in more than 31 years.
The two sides talked for several minutes before Harmon asked Newton what he thought should be done.
“I would like to see this spread over three years where it would increase about a third each year,” Newton said.
The representatives said they would bring Newton’s proposal before the water board for discussion.
The problem has Newton and other school officials looking for alternate sources of water. The school does have a well, but it has been unused for decades.
In other business, the district accepted the resignation of football coach Darren Lamar. Lamar is taking an assistant job at Salina in Mayes County. See related story on Page 5
Newton said he wants to have a new football coach by the end of the month. The board will have a special meeting later this month to talk with candidates.
The board also accepted the resignation of recent hire Bill Berry, Hired to coach, baseball, Berry decided to remain at Chattanooga.
“They had some people there who didn’t want him to leave, so they upped the ante,” Newton said.
Jeff Jones was hired to replace Berry. Jones previously coached at Calvin and has more than 20 years of experience, including more than 600 victories.
“He’s excited to be here and excited about the kids he has to work with,” Newton said.
Also resigning were custodian Heather Attebery and maintenance worker Louis Atteberry.
During his superintendent’s report, Newton told about a $40,000 grant received for Apple iPad tablets. Newton said the district is eligible for two more grants. The current one is for the entire district, but the two new grants would be for each campus.
The board also:
  • Approved the 2013-14 Central High Student Handbook with recommended revisions.
  • Tabled selecting a school property and casualty insurance bid.
  • Approved the continuance with CRW Consulting for contract services.
  • Approved the continuance with OSAG for workers compensation coverage.
  • Approved a request by the FFA sponsor to use a minibus to attend national convention.
  • Approved the continuation of Fortigate filtering system to filter Internet content.
  • Approved a $1,000 contract for Ben McHand, Department of Transportation inspector, to inspect bus fleet on July 17.
  • Approved paying $472,320 to Fenix Constructors for work completed on the new gym.
  • Approved the reappointment of Bennie Newton as custodian of activity fund accounts.
  • Designated Bennie Newton as director of all federal programs for the 2013-14 school year.
  • Approved emergency transfer requests into the district.