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Floyd BOE talks about impact of potential Plant Hammond closing

The Floyd County school system stands to lose $1.5 million in tax revenue if Georgia Power’s Plant Hammond were to shutter, system officials said during a called board meeting Thursday.

Georgia Power announced earlier this month it is cutting 80 jobs at the plant. Floyd County Schools Superintendent John Jackson said he isn’t privy to any information that confirms the plant is closing, but since “Georgia Power is reducing the capacity at that plant … we’re just doing worst-case scenario.”

“I think they’re going to go to purchasing power on the open market and phase out that plant,” he said. “So we’re anticipating that eventually they will close the plant down. We’re hoping they don’t.”

The school system’s 18.58 millage rate generates over $4 million from Georgia Power property in Floyd County, Jackson said.

Chip Hood, board of education chairman, said that even if Plant Hammond closes, the school system would

still be able to draw money from other taxable assets the utility has in the county.

System officials also are contemplating a deviation from the norm when it comes to the 2018-2019 school year calendar, with the major changes proposed being the pushing back of fall break by a week and spring break by two weeks.

Under one of the three potential options for the calendar is the rescheduling of fall break from the first week in October to the second week. The move would allow for the school system to remain open on Oct. 2, 2018, during the full-time enrollment count day, which is used to figure state funding per student based on the classes students take on that date.

According to Jackson, the shift is purely “a financial decision for us.”

“We’ve lost some money because of that because we’ve had fall break on that count day,” he shared, adding that the October count day is the first of three where the system must report their enrollment.

Jackson explained the issue through an example, if a Floyd County student is in the process of transferring to another school system, say Rome City, and Floyd County Schools are closed on the count day and don’t claim them, then Rome can.

Floyd County Schools can claim the student the week after, but at that point they are secondary to whoever claims the student first, he added.

“If Rome City then claims him during that week, then they get the money for that student even though he’s been with us since the very beginning of the school year up until that time,” Jackson said. “The reason why it’s wiser and smarter to have (fall break) on the second week is if you’ve got a student that you need to go ahead and claim on that count date, we’re going to be in school and we’ll be open.”

Under the same calendar option, spring break in 2019 would be the second week in April as opposed to the 2018 break the last week of March. Jackson said input from teachers indicates moving spring break to April would help boost instruction time by opening up almost all of March — there would be one teacher planning day that students would have off.

The superintendent said altering the system’s schedule would “break stride” with Rome City Schools. The Rome City board of education approved its system’s 2018-2019 calendar last month, keeping fall break in the first week of October and spring break the last week in March.

Jackson will likely recommend the calendar change for approval during the May 2 board meeting, which will be held in the boardroom of the central office, 600 Riverside Parkway, starting at 6 p.m., with the caucus at 5 p.m.

The board also approved over 30 personnel changes, which includes the addition of five speech-language pathologists.