Lee board updates reduction-in-force policy

LEESBURG -- The Lee County Board of Education voted 5-0 to amend wording in its reduction-in-force policy at its monthly board meeting Monday night.

Updating the December 2004 document, the board added a sentence that a reduction-in-force would stem from: "A loss of funds to a reduction in state funds, reduction in local funds or other funds that make necessary a reduction in spending."

Seventh-year Superintendent Lawrence Walters made a point to immediately relieve worries about the timeliness of the update to the small crowd.

"Of course, we aren't experiencing a reduction of funds or a reduction-in-force," Walters said.

After the 17-minute meeting, Board Chair Sylvia Vann added: "We hope we never do that."

The school board was also given an update on 2009 funds collected for the special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST). SPLOST III collections were $3,472,023.12 for 2009, which was down from 2008's $3,660,774.54.

Monthly figures were down seven of the 12 months in 2009 with February, March, May, August and September numbers topping 2008. December's figure of $269,584.38 was down $26,442.02 from December 2008's $296,026.40.

The school board also unanimously passed permission for Lee County Middle School teachers Beth Green and Erin Peavy to take seventh-graders to Tampa, Fla., and Orlando, Fla., as a way to culminate their social studies, science and math standards May 13-14. The students will visit the Busch Gardens' Africa area in Tampa for their social studies and science standards and will learn math standards by riding Universal Studios' Incredible Hulk roller coaster.

The trip is costing $289 per student, which students can raise. The 55 students are in their second year of a three-year loop where the same students and teachers stay together. According to information provided by Green and Peavey, students conducted fundraisers during the sixth-grade year and were able to save some of those funds for this year's trip. More than 40 students have already turned in their permission forms.

Lee County Middle School Principal Susan Manry said the out-of-state trip will likely be the last for the school.

"In the future, out-of-state trips will be eliminated," Manry told the board due to the high cost and the economy. "There's a lot of things we can do in state."

At the end of the meeting, Vann reminded the crowd to check out the January artwork adorning the school board meeting room's walls.

Kindergarten, first- and second-grade students at Lee County Primary School created the colorful abstract artwork, which ranged from trees, flowers, animals and geometric shapes. The students did the work in Kathy Entz's art classes.