Last Thursday evening the Gadsden County commission and the Gadsden County school board held their first joint meeting.
The mood for the meeting was that of co-operation as School Board Chairman Isaac Simmons commented that the two boards were coming together to best benefit Gadsden County.
Commission Chairwoman Sherrie Taylor stated she wanted to have a regular dialog with the two boards as well.
The two entities were together as a way of seeing how they could work jointly to find ways to help the county.
School Board Member Charlie Frost was the first to bring up two ideas about working together.
Frost first talked about finding ways to save on health insurance.
He stated that if the county and school board could pool their employees it could save both of them money on premiums.
Frost said that the school board spent a lot of money providing health insurance and any savings would be a help. He mentioned that by combining the two groups of employees there could be a savings in buying health insurance as a larger group.
County Administrator Robert Presnell explained that the county uses an insurance committee to negotiate their choices and premiums and thought it was a good idea to work together on a possible buying group.
Commissioner Brenda Holt added she, too, thought it was a good idea to look at ways to save.
Holt stated that by working together it would help the county’s economic development programs.
“Business will come if we have a good school system,” she said, adding that the county wanted to work with the school board.
Commissioner Gene Morgan told the group that he wanted these type meetings to continue with both boards.
It was decided that the insurance committee from the school board, of which board member Audrey Lewis is a member, and the county’s committee will meet sometime in the near future to see if there can be a savings from joining forces.
In addition, Frost mentioned another large expense: diesel fuel for transportation.
That issue will be discussed between Presnell and School Superintendent Roger Milton.
County Commissioners Eric Hinson and Holt brought up the idea of using empty schools as a possible opportunity for those looking for site-ready buildings for their businesses.
Hinson mentioned the Havana Elementary building for use as an incubator to help entrepreneurs start their businesses.
He mentioned using the old school as a community center as well.
This was the first meeting of the two boards in over ten years and according to Simmons and Taylor, they will plan another meeting in two to three months.