The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Recessed Meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room located in the Wise County Courthouse. The following members were present:
Honorable J. H. Rivers, Chairman
Honorable Dana Kilgore, Vice-Chair
Honorable Virginia Meador
Honorable Robert R. Adkins
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Fred Luntsford
Honorable Robert E. Robbins, members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – County Financial Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
IN RE: SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION PLAN
Supervisor Robbins made a motion to approve the Resolution Authorizing the Application for Stimulus Money for the Renovation of High Schools and build the Appalachia Elementary Gym for a total of $42M as follows:
AES Gym $1,500,000
And further recommend the following:
Apply K-12 concept all schools where practical
Use savings from K-12 concept to fund teacher/staff raises
Apply for QSCB and Literary Funds by the November 19th deadline
All construction to start simultaneously and as soon as possible for the comfort of the students
School Board to decide extent of renovations by involving and adhering to each specific community recommendations within the approved amounts for each school
Place any needed capital improvements for St. Paul in our 5-year capital outlay plan
And further that the Supervisors voting “yes” for this resolution specifically oppose the closing of any of Wise County’s six high schools and will not support any appropriations, loans or tax-increases that in any way will facilitate the closing of our current high schools and the destruction of the communities in which they reside and further that the Supervisors voting “yes” for this resolution support the funding scenario presented herein to renovate, revitalize, refurbish and operate the County’s six high schools upon a good faith and binding resolution by the School Board. J. H. Rivers seconded the motion.
Bob Adkins made a substitute motion to adopt the Funding resolution for Wise County High Schools as an alternative to the current consolidation plan and commit the sum of $69M for a plan of consolidation that supports the construction of two new schools on one site that would service all existing high schools with the exception of St. Paul High School, which would be converted to a K-12 with the new facilities being located within a 4 to 5 mile radius of Highways 23 and 58 and further this plan would include & support the funding of up to $2M to build and construct the Appalachia Elementary gym, and further that the Debt Management Policy be amended to state that net debt as a percentage of assessed value should not exceed 3%. Steve Bates seconded the motion.
Supervisor Robbins stated that on November 12, 2009, the Board of Supervisors made a motion to support high school improvement projects in the amount of $42M and retain $9M in reserve for schools. Since that resolution is in effect, he felt that resolution would need to be rescinded before Mr. Adkins’s resolution could be adopted.
Supervisor Adkins stated that he disagreed with Mr. Robbins statement.
Attorney Mullins noted that any resolution adopted by the Board would supersede any previous resolutions. All resolutions are subject to being modified or amended by the majority of the Board.
Chairman Rivers said that he disagreed with Attorney Mullins ruling on this subject. He proceeded to read a resolution that was adopted by the Board on September 9, 2010 which stated that the Supervisors voting “Yes” for this resolution specifically oppose the closing of any of Wise County’s six high schools and will not support any appropriations, loans or tax increases that in any way would facilitate the closing of the current high schools and the destruction of the communities in which they reside and further the Supervisors voting yes for this resolution supports reasonable funding requests to update, keep open the County’s six high schools upon good faith and binding requests by Wise County School Board.
Mr. Rivers stated that he feels the motion made by Mr. Adkins contradicts the motion that the Board has approved.
Chairman Rivers asked Supervisor Robbins if he was calling for a Point of Order.
Supervisor Robbins said that he was calling for A Point of Order.
Mr. Rivers stated that he felt that the position that this Board has taken will have to be rescinded in order for Mr. Adkins to offer his motion.
Attorney Mullins noted that a Point of Order can be appealed by the majority of the Board. It’s always been the policy of this Board that resolutions supersede any previous resolutions. In most ordinances and resolutions, that language is included. But the Chairman does have the right to make that determination and that Point of Order can be reviewed by the majority of the Board.
Supervisor Kilgore asked Chairman Rivers if he had made A Point of Order.
Chairman Rivers said he had made a ruling. He explained that the Board can make a motion to appeal his ruling which requires a second and it must carry by two thirds majority.
The floor was open for a motion if his ruling was to be questioned.
Supervisor Shortt reminded the Board that the School Board is not going to consider six school options. If this is ruled, Appalachia will be going to Powell Valley and Pound to Kelly and Appalachia Elementary will probably not get a gym.
Attorney Mullins noted that if a Point of Order is to be voted on, she needs to look further in Roberts Rule of Order on whether it takes a 2/3 vote or a majority vote since there is a question.
Supervisor Luntsford told the Board that he had recently stood outside the gate at a home game at Appalachia and took a poll of their views on consolidation. Of that survey, 79% said if they had to make a choice, they would choose a neutral site. He also took a survey at the high school, and 91% voted to go to a neutral site. This is from the students that will be affected by this move.
Supervisor Meador questioned the site preparation costs since she had not seen those figures.
Attorney Mullins noted that Roberts Rule of Order states that “to amend the minutes or amend the rules is two thirds vote. However, an appeal of the decision of the Chair’s opinion is sustained if it’s four four. But a majority carries that appeal”. That is found under Appeal of a Point of Order by the Chair of Robert’s Rule of Order.
Chairman Rivers stated that the vote to be taken is to overturn his decision. A yes vote means that Appalachia, Pound, Powell Valley and Coeburn High Schools are closed as of this evening. A yes vote means that Wise keeps a school in this area, and St. Paul keeps its school.
There were comments made on the impact consolidation has had on our communities, students, families, relationships, economic development, and Wise County as a whole. Comments were made on the proposed 2-on-1 site and probable problems that will arise with having that many students on one site.
For clarification, Attorney Mullins stated that a yes vote would appeal or overturn the decision of the Chair and allow the resolution introduced by Mr. Adkins to be voted on.
There being more discussion, Mr. Adkins asked the Chairman to call for a vote. Steve Bates seconded the motion.
Attorney Mullins noted that this vote is on the Point of Order but not on the Appeal of the Chair.
Chairman Rivers called for the vote.
There still being confusion on which motion to vote on, Attorney Mullins explained that this vote is to end further discussion.
Aye- Steve Bates Nay- Fred Luntsford
Bob Adkins Robby Robbins
Dana Kilgore Virginia Meador
J. H. Rivers
Supervisor Luntsford recommended that each Board member verbalize their feelings about how they feel with regard to the proposed consolidation plan. Everyone is not on the same playing field. He feels that Appalachia has the most to lose, which seems to be all of its schools.
Supervisor Kilgore stated that at the present time the discussion is regarding Chairman Rivers ruling which is to stop the vote on the resolution Mr. Adkins has placed before the Board. As of right now, the Point of Order is under discussion.
Chairman Rivers stated that his Point of Order is that this Board has taken a stand that they want to keep all six schools open and he has made a decision to support that. If the Board votes against his ruling, then the Board no longer has the stand to keep the six small schools open. Therefore, Mr. Adkins motion can be considered, otherwise it can not.
Aye- Fred Luntsford Nay- Robby Robbins
Ronnie Shortt Virginia Meador
Steve Bates J. H. Rivers
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to allow Dr. Perry to address the Board. The motion was unanimously approved.
Supervisor Luntsford asked Dr. Perry what are the chances that the School Board would change its decision and opt to remodel the schools.
Dr. Perry stated that the School Board is moving forward with the public hearing on November 16 as advertised. If the School Board does not have a funding resolution for some scenario that the School Board could support, they will go forward with the closing of the schools as stated in the proposed plan of consolidation.
When asked if the School Board would support the resolution as offered by Mr. Adkins, Dr. Perry stated that his Board has stated before that there is a majority of support for the 2-on-1 concept.
When asked if the School Board would support the $2M funding for the gym at the Appalachia Elementary School, Dr. Perry was of the opinion that would also be acceptable.
When asked if the School Board would accept a friendly amendment to Mr. Adkins resolution which would be to include keeping 8th grade students at the Appalachia Elementary School, Dr. Perry replied, as Superintendent, that he felt there would be no problem in making that amendment to the resolution.
When asked if this resolution is adopted, would construction on that gym start in concurrence with construction on the 2-on-1 site, Dr. Perry was of the opinion that would start at the same time.
Supervisor Luntsford asked the fate of the Appalachia gym if Mr. Adkins resolution fails.
Dr. Perry stated that the construction of the Elementary School Gym at Appalachia would be in connection with the construction projects of the high schools. The high schools are in the most urgent need in the County public school system and any monies would have to go toward the high schools first or at least concurrent with the construction of that gym. He felt that his Board would not support any construction of any gym at Appalachia or elsewhere until the needs of the high schools are met.
When asked if the gym was built at Appalachia Elementary School, would that insure that the 8th grade would remain at Appalachia, Dr. Perry stated that if the gym is built at the Elementary School the 8th grade would remain there.
Supervisor Meador asked the location of the proposed site and the price.
Dr. Perry stated that currently the School Board is looking at three (3) locations. One is located in the Bear Creek along Rt. 58, another above Magic Mart, and the third site is located north of Grace Point. A great deal of preliminary work has been done regarding these sites.
When asked what the status of the project would be if additional funding were needed, Dr. Perry stated that the project would be stopped or the Board of Supervisors would need to adopt another resolution for additional funding.
Dr. Perry explained that the School Board, the Board of Supervisors and the construction company would sign a Comprehensive Agreement to do the construction work for a certain price. If it were to exceed that amount, the Board of Supervisors would have the opportunity to come back and revisit the issue. This Comprehensive Agreement would satisfy the requirement of a PPEA.
When asked about the number of students on one site, Dr. Perry stated that there would be approximately 2,000 students on one site but in two separate schools.
When noted that the City of Norton has asked to enter the talks if the 2-on-1 concept is approved, Dr. Perry stated that the inclusion of Norton would make a positive impact to the County. The number of students from Norton would be approximately 250.
There was some discussion on a possible advertisement date for the 2-on-1 concept if the resolution is adopted.
Chairman Rivers asked Attorney Mullins if this motion carries, before the Board allocates any money, will the Board of Supervisors have to hold a public hearing on the Bond Issuance?
Attorney Mullins replied that the advertisement for public hearing of the Bond Issuance would be only one of many steps to be taken.
When asked if the school enrollment continues to decline and the County has over built its schools, is it the School Board’s intent to fill that space by bringing the Middle School and possibly the Elementary School students to that facility, Dr. Perry replied that the School Board feels that the best use of that space would be for the Alternative School and for Vocational Programming that could be offered that would not involve having to transport the students.
There was some discussion on the sports activity and the scheduling of sports contract which would depend upon whether or not the Board of Supervisors adopts a funding solution that the School Board felt was viable.
When asked if the School Board would be willing to look at other sites other than the three that was mentioned, Dr. Perry stated that if another site, within the radius noted, and more financially viable, safer or offer more savings, the School Board would be willing to review those options.
Chairman Rivers opened the floor for discussion on the resolution presented by Mr. Adkins.
Supervisor Luntsford offered a friendly amendment to Mr. Adkins resolution to include moving the Appalachia 8th grade to the Elementary School.
Supervisor Adkins accepted that amendment to his resolution.
Chairman Rivers offered a substitute amendment to the friendly amendment that was made to Mr. Adkins resolution that the Board approve the concept that has been presented by Mr. Adkins plan but not include any dollar amount to allocate funds.
Chairman Rivers explained that his reasons for this amendment are:
Reason #1- that Dr. Perry did not state tonight that he has any obligations on land purchases.
Reason # 2 - for his amendment is that the Board has not seen any environmental impact studies on any of the three sites.
Reason #3 - for his amendment is that this will increase the Debt Service Policy based on the resolution presented by Mr. Adkins. He noted that the Board could live with the concept but they would need details.
Chairman Rivers noted that his motion is to approve the concept so the School Board can begin their process and then begin to bring to the Board the detailed funding proposal and apply QSCB money. Robby Robbins seconded the substitute motion.
Supervisor Kilgore noted that when the School Board applies for money they have to know a dollar amount or the County will not get the zero financing. No bonds will be issued until it comes back to the Board for review of the numbers. If the amount is above what was asked for, the Board will have the opportunity to stop the funding.
Chairman Rivers stated that if an amount is needed he would suggest $52M which is what the Davenport Study showed the Board could afford.
Supervisor Kilgore stated that she was comfortable with $70M for the schools. This issue has been discussed for two years and if a decision is not made the County will miss the zero % financing and that will be a $7M mistake.
Chairman Rivers stated that he did not agree but they should apply. No numbers have been given to the Board on the cost of the land or site preparation. Only projections have been presented. If an amount is needed he suggested going low instead of high.
Chairman Rivers made another substitute motion to allocate the $1.2M that is in the current School Board Capital Outlay for Kelly High School specifically, and the Board will support a government finance exemption to mine the area, take the coal behind the current J. J. Kelly High School so the coal company can leave the site in the condition that a school can be built.
Chairman Rivers noted that the coal company that has been talked to not only has said they will leave that site ready to build a school but they are also willing to take their equipment to Powell Valley to do some excavation and drainage work. That will be a new school in Wise. Powell Valley High School can be renovated for $10.7M. Coeburn High School renovated for $8M. Appalachia High School renovated for $6.5M. Pound High School renovated for $6.5M. Build an Appalachia Elementary Gym for $1.5M and keep the 8th grade in Appalachia Elementary School and keep St. Paul High School as K-12. At this time, no money would be allocated. He said he would recommend that if St. Paul needs capital outlay money in the future that they be included in the County’s CIP. This totals $52M which is the amount within the Davenport Report that states that Wise County can support this without a tax increase and maintain six schools in Wise County. Further that the Supervisors recommend the following:
Apply the K-12 concept at all schools where practical
Use savings from the K-12 concept to fund teachers and staff raises
Limit construction to current population of each school
Apply for QSCB and Literary Funds by the November 19th deadline
All construction to start simultaneously and as soon as possible
School Board to decide extent of renovations for new construction for Wise by involving each specific community
Designates specific student cost to be applied County wide
Place any needed capital improvements for St. Paul in our 5-year CIP Plan
Virginia Meador seconded the motion.
Supervisor Luntsford stated that the Board has heard from Dr. Perry this evening that the School Board most likely will not entertain any resolution to remodel schools. Therefore, he cannot take the chance of losing everything.
Aye- Virginia Meador Nay- Steve Bates
Robby Robbins Ronnie Shortt
J. H. Rivers Bob Adkins
Robby Robbins made a substitute motion for a resolution that would put Appalachia, Pound and Kelly in one school somewhere on Rt. 23 for $30M. Allow students at Appalachia to go to Powell Valley or Burton or the new school being built. Renovate Powell Valley for $12M, renovate Coeburn for $10M and keep Appalachia at 8th grade level & build the gym for Appalachia for $1.5 and K-12 at St. Paul for at total of $43.5M. J. H. Rivers seconded the motion.
Aye- Virginia Meador Nay- Steve Bates
Robby Robbins Ronnie Shortt
J. H. Rivers Bob Adkins
Chairman Rivers made a substitute motion to renovate three schools for Wise County and build a gym for Appalachia Elementary School as follows:
Motion dies for lack of second.
Chairman Rivers asked for a vote on his substitute motion to Mr. Adkins resolution which stated that the Board accepts the concept of Mr. Adkins resolution but a dollar amount not be included.
Aye- Robby Robbins Nay- Ronnie Shortt
J. H. Rivers Virginia Meador
IN RE: RESOLUTION FUNDING FOR WISE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS
Chairman Rivers asked for a vote on Mr. Adkins resolution for funding of the Wise County High Schools with the friendly amendment offered by Mr. Luntsford to keep the 8th grade at the Appalachia Elementary School.
Aye- Ronnie Shortt Nay- Robby Robbins
Fred Luntsford Virginia Meador
Bob Adkins J. H. Rivers
RESOLUTION # 2010
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
There being no further business, a motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Robby Robbins, to adjourn the meeting.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk J. H. Rivers, Chairman