03/25/04 — Schools send $82.5 million plan to county

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Schools send $82.5 million plan to county

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 25, 2004 2:06 PM

The school board officially approved its $82.5 million construction plan Wednesday night and said it now looks forward to working with commissioners and the public to get it passed.

One board member, however, hesitated to cast her vote until she knew her constituents would be represented in the plan.

Board member Thelma Smith said she had a few concerns on behalf of the six schools in central Goldsboro.

"So many are sitting and waiting to see what's going to happen," she said. "We made every effort to contact the people who knew what the needs there were.

"Many of them were programs of enhancement in areas like math and music. We found out they couldn't go in the facilities plan. They're going to be funded through other sources."

She said that in the past she has seen things taken away and moved into other areas and wanted assurances that if a bond were passed, it would not diminish the quality of education for students in the central Goldsboro schools.

"We are trying to have schools in the communities where people want schools," she said. "We have to remember that central attendance area is also a community. So when you plan for community schools, don't forget that."

Mrs. Smith said that it had been reported that $3 million would be designated for projects in the six schools, but that did not tell the whole story. The amount, she said, was in addition to what had already been proposed on the board's original priority list. There were also other projects that have been completed since the initial plan was introduced.

Board member John Grantham also clarified remarks he had made during a work session on Monday. He said his suggestion to add a sixth grade to 12th grade school in the northern end of the county to offset overcrowding would not have caused an increase to the bond amount.

"When I proposed the additional high school, that was in lieu of the 20 new classrooms at Charles B. Aycock," he said. "It was no increase in funding; it was a wash as far as the middle school."

The board unanimously approved the plan, which schools Superintendent Steve Taylor said would be delivered to county commissioners today.

"We look forward to meeting with both full boards, deciding on the funding options, and going out into the communities and seeing what they have to say," he said.

He said it has been a major project and a lot of work but now feels like a big burden has rolled off the group's shoulders.

"It's been a long process," said board member Lehman Smith. "But I'm really glad that we remained focused on the children and their needs."

Board member George Moye agreed the plan has been a long time in the making and said there is a lot of excitement in the county about the prospect of having a building plan.

"We all have high hopes of getting it funded," he said.

Grantham said he would encourage the county to support a bond issue if it comes to the ballot in the fall.

"I think it will be a major positive impact on the county as a whole," he said.

Board Chairman Pete Gurley thanked the board for its hard work this week and said the plan is something it can be proud of.

"I appreciate everyone coming together and getting a 7-0 vote on the plan that we're going to hand to the commissioners."

Taylor agreed that the unity sends the message that the board is working together.

The top five items on the list call for $2.5 million for a new multi-purpose room at Brogden Primary school; $400,000 for classroom and cafeteria renovations at Mount Olive Middle School; $2.3 million in renovations at Goldsboro High School; and $1.6 million allocated for air conditioning gymnasiums at eight middle schools.

Added to the original list were a new concession stand at Dillard Middle School, and at School Street Elementary School, air conditioning the gym and adding new restrooms and new exterior doors.

New school construction projects include:

*A new middle school to relieve Eastern Wayne and Norwayne middle schools, at $12 million.

*A new $8 million elementary school to relieve overcrowding at Northeast, Northwest, and Tommy's Road elementary schools.

*Grantham High School, estimated at $18 million.

*Mount Olive High School, $18 million.

*A new auxiliary gym at Spring Creek High School for $1.5 million.

*A new auxiliary gym at Brogden High School for $1.5 million.