The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 7, 2014

104 county students displaced by storms

Foundation fund available for storm relief donations

By Kim West

— The updated number of displaced county students from the April 28 storms has nearly doubled from last week, according to Limestone school officials after Tuesday night’s board meeting.

Blue Springs Elementary School and Clements High School have verified 104 students without permanent housing after EF3 twisters destroyed or heavily damaged at least 272 residences countywide on April 28.

Dr. Tom Sisk, superintendent of Limestone County Schools, said all homeless students are eligible to receive backpacks filled with school supplies, which are being provided by the Limestone County Department of Human Resources.

“We have 55 displaced students at Clements and 49 at Blue Springs, and those are the same names we gave to DHR for backpacks and supplies,” Sisk said.

Friends of Limestone County

The central office is accepting donations for storm relief through its revitalized foundation account, the Friends of Limestone County Fund. The nonprofit fund reopened this week and drew a quick response from the community.

“The first day some $1,800 was donated toward our affected students, and this money will be expended by (Principal Keith) Hairrell at Clements and (Principal Randy) Hamilton at Blue Springs,” Sisk said.

The superintendent said the tax-deductible, monetary donations would be used to replenish needed items for students, such as sneakers, blue jeans and pillows.

“You may send any monetary donation to any school, the central office or Compass Bank, and it will be deposited into this fund,” said Karen Tucker, spokeswoman for the school system. “The money will be accessible by the principals at these two schools to help those affected.”

Christmas in May 

New toys or clothing will be accepted in a new disaster-relief project patterned after the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. Sisk said the donations will be taken at any of the school system’s 13 campuses, with the gift being distributed to a student impacted by the storms.

“We have people that don’t want to give money but want to give a toy, and this program will allow them to anonymously buy the item and then take it to a school office,” he said.

Sisk also said Blue Springs and Clements were both granted waivers from the state Superintendent of Education, Dr. Tommy Bice, to exempt from standardized testing this spring.

Other agenda items

Among its agenda items, the board approved the following:

• a recommendation to declare the schools in the Clements area an emergency, allowing for necessary construction that will be completed within state guidelines;

• a $42,400 low quote from Civicon General Contractors for the Elkmont High School kitchen renovations based on design plans from Davis Architects;

• a $6,315 proposal by Crews Inc. to install a security window with tempered glass and an aluminum frame for the Elkmont front office;

• the construction of up to seven portable classrooms to be used on a contingency basis, with quotes being accepted from local contractors and materials being purchased by the school system to take advantage of its tax-exempt status;

• an agreement to issue $25 million in capital outlay warrants at a 4.09 percent interest rate. Sisk said this was four-tenths of a point lower than a previous rate, saving the school system more than $1 million;

• a suspension of the rules to allow the superintendent to accept certain facility uses and extracurricular trips;

• a suspension of the rules to grant the superintendent authority to decide student expulsion cases, with parents having the option to appeal to the school board;

• rejection of grass-cutting bid due to budget constraints and letting out bids for grass-cutting services for all schools;

• letting out bids for a tractor, Bush Hog and front-end loader for the Limestone County Career Technical Center and heating, air conditioning and ventilation units to be used on an as-needed basis,

The school board will hold a regular meeting at 7 a.m. Thursday, May 29 at the Clinton Street courthouse annex.