03/22/06 — Commission rejects plan detailing school capacity

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Commission rejects plan detailing school capacity

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 22, 2006 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners want corrections and clarifications made to a report from the Wayne County School District reviewing the district's future facilities needs.

The board removed a review of the county's Board of Education facility summary and plan from its agenda Tuesday, and approved sending the summary back to the board to redraft the document.

County Attorney Borden Parker said the commissioners could send the document back to the school board because Lehman Smith had signed as the school board chairman, a position he no longer holds. Also, the numbers within the document were confusing, he said.

Every five years, the state's Department of Instruction requires the Wayne County School Board to submit a capacity summary and plan for the area's schools. The General Assembly uses the reports to plan future bonds for schools.

The document created by the school board this year anticipates the construction needs and student population for the 2014-15 school year.

In the document, the projected enrollment for all grades during that school year is about 26,000 students. In another part of the summary, the projected enrollment for the same year is about 19,000 students.

The commissioners were not required to accept the document, Parker said. Instead, they could acknowledge receiving the plan, sign it and send it to the state Board of Education. With the errors, however, the commissioners decided to remove the summary from the agenda until the school board makes corrections.

The summary also included an estimation of the cost of additions, renovations and new facilities needed for the 2014-15 school year. The plan called for the construction of six new schools and additions or renovations to all 31 county public schools. The projected price for the project is more than $275 million.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said the school board did not create these figures. The state Department of Instruction has its own formula, which includes a price per square foot for elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

Commissioner Jack Best said the construction numbers varied too greatly. He said there was something wrong with the figures.

"I'll do whatever the board wants to do on this, but I can't accept that the numbers are so off," he said.

Smith said he had talked with a Department of Instruction official and was told that the commissioners might want to take the summary plan with a grain of salt, because the General Assembly could do the same thing.

"Since someone in the school system said to take this with a grain of salt, I think we should table it until we receive the report from Evergreen (Solutions)," Best said.