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New school board counsel approved, $129.9M budget gets thumbs up
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IN BRIEF: The Rockdale County school board approved the $129.9 million budget for the next school year in a 6-0 vote, with school board member Sharon Pharr abstaining. The school board also named Santana Flanigan, a Rockdale County Public Schools graduate and the current city of Stockbridge's Chief Municipal Judge, as the new general counsel in a unanimous vote.

Pharr said she abstained because she had not been able to attend as many finance committee meetings as she would have liked and needed more information.

The $129.9 million budget for 2014-2015 would eliminate furlough days and restore a 180 day student/190 day staff calendar, add 42 teacher positions, restore 10 ITDS positions (who help teachers use technology in the curriculum), and keep many of the STARS programs funded by a soon-expiring federal grant, such as mental health services in the schools.

The proposed budget is almost $10 million more than the previous year's budget, with $7.8 million more being received in state funds and about $1.2 million more projected from local funds.

General Counsel

Santana Flanigan, the Rockdale Board of Education General Counsel to-be, is a McDonough resident and Rockdale native with three generations of family in Rockdale, according to his resume and application. He attended Honey Creek Elementary, Sims Elementary, Edwards Middle and graduated from Salem High in 1997. He earned his bachelor's degree at Emory University and his law degree from University of Georgia in 2006. He has given legal counsel to schools and school systems as part of a McDonough law firm from 2011, including Henry County, Peach County, Butts County, Haralson County, and Georgia Cyber Academy.

Flanigan was hired at an annual salary of $140,000 for 230 work days a year, with RCPS employee benefits.

Current school board General Counsel Jack Lance is set to retire June 30, after more than 30 years of service. Lance's tenure representing the school board began November 1982. For the past 13 years, Mr. Lance has served as full-time General Counsel for RCPS.

Lance, a nationally recognized expert in school law, told the Board of Education and Superintendent Autry that "it has always been an honor and privilege to represent the Rockdale County School District."

"On behalf of the entire Board of Education, we express our sincere appreciation to Mr. Lance for his many years of service and dedication to this board, the school system and to the children of Rockdale County," said school board Chair Jim McBrayer. "He has a reputation of integrity and is seen as an expert in school law, not only in Georgia, but across the nation and will certainly be missed. Collectively, we wish Mr. Lance and his family much happiness as they move into their next chapter in life."