Barrow BOE approves realigning school zones

WINDER - Nearly 200 Statham Elementary School students will move to Holsenbeck Elementary School when the 2008 school year begins next fall. The Barrow County Board of Education voted Tuesday to realign the two schools' zones to relieve overcrowding at Statham Elementary.

When Statham Elementary School opened in September, it had been completely remodeled to hold 900 students and had almost doubled in size. Three months later, the school is overcrowded by 51 students and officials expect that number to grow.

Holsenbeck Elementary School, on the other hand, has room for about 200 students. Also built to a 900-student capacity, Holsenbeck currently educates 704 students. About 160 to 180 students living near Pleasant Hill Road and near the Northeast Georgia Regional Airport can expect to move from Statham Elementary to Holsenbeck. Rising fifth-graders who want to remain at Statham may do so, but their parents will be responsible for their transportation to and from school. Affected Statham students may transfer to Holsenbeck Elementary in January, if they want, but they will have to find transportation.

Late tax notices expected to affect school system's bill payments

Anyone owed money by the Barrow County School System might have to be patient, but just for a little while. Property tax notices went out late this year, due to a countywide reassessment. That means the school system will be late getting their money and officials are already negotiating with vendors, said Ken Cato, assistant superintendent of business services.

In 2006, property tax notices were sent out in early October, Cato told the board. Between mid-October and mid-November of 2006 the school system collected $6 million.

This year, tax bills were mailed Nov. 15, Cato said, and the schools have amassed $300,000 since then.

"People have 60 days to pay, so they have until January. Some people might be delinquent, so collections could carry over into February," Cato said. "It could make us late paying our vendors. We have to make payroll. It throws our cash flow behind."

District 5 Board member Lynn Stevens said there's no excuse for those tax bills having gone out late.

"We don't need to be playing games with taxes in this county to the detriment of our students," Stevens said. "They've been late (before). They should know how to do a reassessment by now."

Melinda Williams, tax commissioner, confirmed that tax notices have been mailed late in the past.

"The reason we were late is because it was a total re-evaluation," Williams said. "I don't have any control over when the tax commissioner gives me those figures. Once I get it in my hand, I do my best to get them done as fast as I can."

Cecil Highfield, Barrow County's tax assessor, was unavailable for comment Tuesday night.