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School board votes to collect on bond forfeitures

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
EAST SPENCER ó An attorney representing the Rowan-Salisbury School System will soon start going after bond forfeitures involving a certain amount of money.
By a unanimous vote, members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education instructed attorney Don Sayers to begin trying to collect at Bond C hearings involving bonds of $2,000 or more.
According to school officials, a Bond C means the defendant has already skipped out on his first two bonds and a judge is more likely to award the school system the money.
For the school system to receive the bond forfeiture money, an attorney has to be present at monthly hearings.
The bond forfeitures happen when a defendant doesn’t show up for his court date. If the bondsman hasn’t located the defendant within 150 days, he can file a petition to get the bond money back.
A judge has the discretion to return bond money to the bondsman or deny the request.
Any money awarded to the state automatically goes to the local school system. In years past, the school system hasn’t pursued the money.
That will soon change.
Board member Karen South Carpenter said at Monday’s meeting that Bond C forfeitures of $2,000 or more likely involve enough money for the system to pursue.
“At that point, it probably becomes cost-effective for us,” she said.
Board members had discussed the matter late last year, but taken no action.
Board member Kay Wright Norman asked Sayers Monday the average amount of money involved in a Bond C forfeiture. Sayers admitted he didn’t know, though he said he’d spoken with court officials of the likelihood of the schools getting that money.
“I’ve been advised that Bond C gets the most scrutiny,” he said. “I think it’s our greatest chance of success. It’s one they look at closely before giving the bondsman back money.”
Sayers noted that it probably wasn’t worth the school system’s time or effort for him to pursue bonds of $250 to $500. He said pursuing the $2,000 bonds was the amount suggested by District Court Judge Charlie Brown.
In past discussions, board members have said that some school systems pursue bond forfeiture money while others don’t. There has been debate concerning the possibility that any of the money received from the courts will be offset by equal reductions in funding by Rowan County commissioners.
In other matters handled at Monday’s meeting, board members:
– Approved a first reading of an elementary and middle school instructional fee schedule. According to the schedule, any fee of more than $10 for elementary school students and any middle school field trip costing more than $25 must get board approval beforehand.
A second reading of the proposed schedule will be held at the board’s March meeting.
– Approved amendments to the system’s transfer policy that were presented by Walter Hart, assistant superintendent for administration and athletics.
Monday’s approval came on the amendments’ second reading. Hart said most of the amendments were clarifications to the existing policy.
– Approved bleacher replacements at North Rowan High and Knox Middle schools at a cost of $141,828. Gene Miller, assistant superintendent of support services, said the replacement bleachers will be motorized and made of hard plastic.
He said $300,000 had been budgeted for replacement of bleachers at the schools, and the savings will likely mean that another high school will get new bleachers. Miller said South Rowan, East Rowan and West Rowan high schools could all use new bleachers.
At the start of Monday’s meeting, during a period where members of the public are allowed to address the board, Jane Smith Steinberg, a retired Knox teacher, asked that the school’s bleachers be replaced.
She said she taught at Knox for 31 years and said the school didn’t have bleachers in its gym when it opened in the 1958-1959 school year.
Steinberg said the bleachers in the school’s gym were only added in the 1970-1971 school year and came from Price High School when it was closed. She said the bleachers were already well-used by the time they made it to Knox.
Steinberg said the bleachers probably date to the 1920s.
“They were in bad shape then,” she said of the day they were installed at Knox.
– Approved the re-roofing of 16,000 square feet of roof at Landis Elementary School at a cost of $98,868.
– Heard a preview of three presentations that will be made by school officials to Rowan County commissioners at the commissioners’ retreat Thursday morning.
Superintendent Judy Grissom said commissioners asked her to break a single, long presentation into three shorter ones.
“So they can say no three times instead of just once?” quipped board member Bryce Beard.
The presentations that will be made to commissioners are an overview of the schools by Grissom, a 10-year capital improvement plan by Miller, and a presentation about Rowan County Early College by Dr. Becky Smith, assistant superintendent for curriculum.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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