03/03/05 — Commissioners want strategic plan committee activated

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Commissioners want strategic plan committee activated

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 3, 2005 1:52 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners is sending a letter today to members of the county Board of Education, asking that a steering committee that worked on the 1997 strategic plan for the county be reconvened within the next 30 days.

The commissioners decided in a work session Tuesday that bringing the original steering committee members back together would be the best way to carry out the proposed strategic plan.

The committee was appointed by the commissioners in 1996 from members of the business community, churches, agriculture, law enforcement, education, military, and local government to help develop long-range goals for Wayne. But a series of emergencies that stemmed from hurricanes that hit the county in ensuing years sidetracked the panel.

County Manager Lee Smith said that a few members of the 21-member committee are no longer living in the area.

"But there were other people that served on sub-committees for the steering committee, and are familiar with what went on," Smith said. "Some of them could be asked to join the committee."

The strategic plan, developed by the steering committee with the help of almost 300 Wayne County citizens, called for the establishment of a county educational council.

The educational council would consist of representatives from the county commissioner board, the board of education, the Economic Development Commission, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the Chamber of Commerce, Wayne Community College and Mount Olive College.

Smith said that the commissioners believe the steering committee should be the group to form an educational council.

In prior discussions, several school board members had suggested that the existing advisory committee could double as the educational council, but commissioners said the strategic plan called for the two groups to be separate.

The educational council would organize the details of an annual education summit, track progress on priority issues, and generally advise the School Board and County Commissioners on educational matters.

An annual county-wide education summit would allow a broad cross section of citizens to identify issues facing the school system and to recommend priorities among the various issues needing attention.

The commissioners believe a comprehensive plan regarding the future of the schools is necessary as recommended in the 1997 Wayne County Strategic Plan.

In the letter to the school board, Commissioner Chairman J. D. Evans said that the "only hope for successfully funding the actual needs of the school system is the development of a comprehensive plan addressing all aspects of education that we jointly can market to the citizens of Wayne County, as developed by the community."