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School board approves full contract with Optim
Effingham Hospital opted not to take part in split deal
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As local athletes gear up for another season, the Effingham County Board of Education has finalized which company will provide sports medicine and athletic trainers for them.

Thursday, the school board awarded OptimOrthopedics the contract to provide sports medicine services for Effingham County High School, Effingham County Middle School and Ebenezer Middle School.

The board voted last month to split the duties between two companies, with Effingham Health System providing sports medicine for Effingham County middle and high schools and OptimOrthopedics serving South Effingham middle and high schools.

However, Effingham Health declined the split proposal, notifying the school district it would “respectfully decline to participate in a divisive program, such as has been offered by your Board.”

In light of that, Superintendent Randy Shearouse said, Optim officials met with the high school principals and athletic directors and “agreed to take on those (three additional) schools.”

The board of education voted 3-0 Thursday to make Optim the sole provider of sports medicine for the school district. Board members Vickie Decker and Eddie Tomberlin were unable to attend the meeting.

Board member Mose Mock cast the one dissenting vote last month against dividing the sports medicine contract, and voted reluctantly to make Optim the sole provider.

“I don’t see where we have any other choice,” Mock said. “My initial vote was for Effingham Hospital. I still wish that’s what we could’ve done.”

Effingham Health System had been providing athletic trainers and sports medicine to the school district, at a cost of $40,000. However, both EHS and OptimOrthopedics offered to provide services this year free of charge.

Latest digest decline doesn’t change millage
A slight decrease in the most recent update to the county’s tax digest will not affect the Effingham County Board of Education’s millage rate for the 2013 fiscal year.

Shearouse shared the latest figures from the county, reflecting a decrease of less than three percent from the previous edition of the digest. The decrease resulted in a rollback millage rate of 17.077 for the school district, down from the 16.897 the BoE approved last month for FY13.

However, Shearouse recommended the school board keep its rate at 16.897 mills. Although that is higher than the 15.333 rate of the previous three years, it is below the latest rollback figure.

“We’re in good shape with the millage rate that we voted on and approved,” Shearouse said.

Board members trained for year
Shearouse announced that all five board of education members have earned their necessary training hours for the year.

The Georgia Board of Education requires that all members of local school boards fulfill a designated number of training hours (based on their years’ experience on the board), in areas such as school law, and school finance and budgeting.