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LeBrun promotes SPLOST initiative

McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun made a pitch Monday for the SPLOST V initiative in November.

Appearing at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club, LeBrun also said he believes Thomson High School's graduation rate will be up again this year.

"We really feel like we're going to bump over 86 percent this year," LeBrun said, noting that a few years ago the rate was in the 55 percent or 56 percent range.

LeBrun said the school system's budget is lean.

"We keep getting cuts from the state. ... Used to be about 75 percent of all the expenses that a school system had was covered by the state. That's getting closer to 50-50," he said.

However, he said, "we are in good shape. We're in a lot better shape than some of our neighbors."

He said Richmond County is considering doing away with assistant principals. Lincoln County, he said, is considering a 3.25 mill property tax increase.

"We're not looking at a millage increase," he said.

However, financial pressures on the system are increasing, he said. The system has 59 fewer employees than it did a year ago, he said. School buses cost about $92,000 apiece, he said, "and we buy four a year."

"The completion of the Brickyard will depend on the SPLOST in November of 2011," LeBrun said.

He said there was not enough time or enough money to complete a new Norris Elementary School, a new middle school and all of the renovations needed at the Brickyard with SPLOST IV.

The first phase of the stadium renovation, which will involve mostly the visitor side, is under way and should be completed in time for the opening of this year's football season, he said.

The second phase, which will include more renovation on the home side, as well as new lights and a new track surface at Thomson High School, requires voter approval of SPLOST V in November.

However, not all SPLOST money goes for brick and mortar projects, he said. Money from the penny sales tax also goes for computers and other technology needs, textbooks and those $92,000 buses.

He acknowledged that not everyone is a football fan or sees the need for facility improvements.

"If you don't agree with any of that, I hope you would agree that it's better to use a penny sales tax that people from Warren County, Lincoln County, Jefferson County, Jenkins County, all the surrounding counties that come here to shop -- if you don't believe it go to Walmart and walk around the parking lot and look at the tags -- let's have them help us buy computers; let's have them help us buy textbooks; let's let them help us buy buses."

Web posted on Thursday, June 23, 2011

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