Board of Education votes for charter system

Published 6:07 pm Friday, June 19, 2015

In response to a state mandate that each school system choose one of three operational and flexibility options, the Decatur County Board of Education chose to become a charter system. Board members voted unanimously to choose this option at Thursday night’s board meeting.

“We spent a good portion of the latter part of the spring meeting with school councils, facility meetings, any committee that involves stakeholders to talk about this flexibility choice that each school system has to make,” said Dr. Fred Rayfield, school system superintendent.

“After all of that input, it was unanimous out of the administrative team that we pursue the charter system option,” Rayfield continued.

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Becoming a charter system does not mean that county schools would become charter schools, but that the system would have a charter, or contract, with the state board of education to increase student achievement.

Additionally, a charter system will have increased flexibility to operate beyond state mandates and make adjustments in staffing, teaching methods and management in exchange for higher accountability, according to a one-page fact sheet released by the school system. That fact sheet is available to view at

Rayfield indicated that it would take a year to fully integrate into the charter system and would take effect with the beginning of the 2017 school year.

The board also formally approved the 2016 fiscal year budget by unanimous vote during the meeting.

The budget, which includes no furlough days for staff and faculty, calls for $39.4 million in general fund revenue and $39.3 million in expenses. The estimated end of year fund balance would be $5.47 million. The board tentatively approved this budget at the May meeting, but was required to advertise the budget in order to provide for public input.

The board also accepted a high-bid from Julius Byrd, in the amount of $100,000, to purchase the old Lillian E. Williams Elementary School in Attapulgus. The school building has been empty since a reorganization of the county schools in 2010.

Byrd, an Attapulgus native currently living in Baltimore, Maryland, plans to use the building to pursue “a variety of grant-funded activities,” according to Rayfield.

The bid was accepting with a 5-0 vote. Board member Kelvin Bouie abstained from the vote because Byrd is a distant cousin.

The only other bid was submitted by Honor Sentinels, Inc, a local military veterans support organization, in the amount of $3,000.