Knox School Board tackles bonds, budgets and ballots

Approving a refinancing package to save the district over $400,000.00 was just part of a packed and challenging agenda facing Knox School Board Tuesday night. The board also approved two new positions, and experienced a somewhat unusual election for board chair.

The board spent much of the evening discussing, and carefully following the legal procedures required to refinance millions of dollars of construction bonds. The complex refinancing process will result in over a $400,000.00 savings to the school district over the life of the bonds.

Many routine items on the agenda were quickly addressed and passed with all 5 board members in complete agreement. Others were not always unanimous, including the approval for hiring two new adult education positions, subject to approval of grant funding, which passed but only after two board members, Merrill Smith and Dexter Smith, abstained.

But things got interesting during the election of the board’s new chairman for 2016. The board’s only female member, Peggy Gray, was nominated and seconded to be chairman.  However, when the role call began, Gray voted first with a “No.” saying she did not want the position. Board chair Dexter Smith then paused and asked the board, and its attorney, what procedure should be followed. The board attorney advised him to continue the vote, which lead to Charles Merida voting yes to elect Gray. Current Chairman Dexter Smith then voted no, explaining, “Only because she says she does not want the job.” Merrill Smith also voted no, but Gordon Hinkle voted yes.  So, by a 3-2 vote, Gray’s nomination to be chairman was defeated. Merrill Smith then made a motion to retain Dexter Smith as board chairman. That motion was seconded by Gray, and passed 3-2, with both Merida and Hinkle opposing Smith’s re-election.

The board also got a detailed explanation of the current situation with the draft budget. According to Gertrude Smith of the Office of Finance and Bookkeeping, the budget will be tight, but greatly depend on what takes place in Frankfort in the near future. “Everything is really up in the air,” said Smith. “A big chunk of our budget depends on the state. We won’t know a whole lot until the state finalizes everything in April.”