Officials react to heated school board meeting

Officials react to heated school board meeting

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As the school year kicks into full gear for students across the Valley, heated debates over money rustled a few feathers Monday night at the Muscogee County School Board meeting.

Turning around 10 failing schools and addressing budget concerns made tensions high as board members discussed the push for more transparency and less spending powers for the district's leader.

Superintendent Dr. David Lewis can currently approve the purchase of items for the district without the board's approval if the price tag falls less than $15,000.

"15,000 is a very modest spending threshold in a school system that is of our relative size," said Lewis.

However despite Lewis' remarks, it still had some wondering if too much money is in one man's hands. Some board members wanted that freedom lowered down to $5,000, but that motion was voted against, keeping the allowance at $15,000. 

"A lot of situations that occur in the course of the day and week and month that cause us to have to react and respond, and that's the point we're trying to deal with and it's not practical or logical to call for emergency on speedy different items," said Lewis. 

On Tuesday, school representatives say they are happy with Monday night's outcome, considering the financial demands a district of its size has, and the impact it has on the community.

" The Muscogee County School District has 32,000 students, we're one of thee largest if not thee largest employer next to Fort Benning, with over 5,000 employees," said Valerie Fuller with the district.

Money was also the center of another conversation, as Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson outlined a proposal eliminating the tax freeze on a property when the house changes owners, as the school district receives 60 percent of the property taxes the city collects.

"It's what helps educate our children, that's one of the most important things that we do in this community, and so we want to make sure that the school board feels comfortable with it as well," said Tomlinson.

Another proposal discussed at the meeting was one to reimburse parents for school supplies, but was not approved.

The district currently has an approved budget for 2016 set to $268 million, and any purchases over $15,000 must get school board approval.

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