04/16/06 — Consultants report might be done soon

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Consultants report might be done soon

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on April 16, 2006 2:01 AM

A report detailing Wayne County Schools' facilities needs -- and what the county can afford to provide -- could be in by the end of the week, county officials said.

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners and the county's Board of Education have waited months for the return of a facilities report from consultant Evergreen Solutions detailing the schools' needs and the finances of both boards.

The report was scheduled to be released at the beginning of April, but County Manager Lee Smith said Evergreen Solutions had a few more items to complete before a draft of the report could be sent to county officials.

Smith said the first step when the report arrives is to have both boards' staffs sit down together and look over Evergreen Solution's recommendations. Then, the staffs can make recommendations of their own.

Both boards are working toward the same goal -- improving Wayne County, Smith said.

"I hope we can get together and get the recommendations back. I think we should put all of the past stuff behind us because myself and the commissioners want the best for the schools," he said.

Wayne County Commis-sioner Atlas Price said the county and the schools should take the process one step at a time.

"We all want to do this the right way and let everyone know the purpose of having this study done. I think we'll have our meetings and, hopefully, we'll make some progress," Price said.

The appropriate way to make progress is by having both boards work together through the entire process, Wayne County Commissioner J.D. Evans said.

"We will need a joint meeting. I think it helps out because we can all be on the same page. It's a healthy situation, in the respect that we can all observe it for the first time," Evans said. "We planned it together, so it makes sense to review it together."

Once both boards have reviewed the document, Smith said all participants will probably have questions and need clarification on some topics. To answer these questions, Smith said he would like to see representatives from Evergreen Solutions work with both boards in a joint meeting.

Then, it will be time for the public to see the report and to ask school and county officials questions, Smith said. Although a public meeting has not been scheduled, he said it is something that should be done.

Smith said he would like to see both boards become better partners as they work to provide the best schools possible -- with budget in mind -- for Wayne County students. He added that this is an issue that cannot be solved overnight.

"If we can get everyone in a room, I think we can work this out. These issues could take us into next year, and I think it's good that we take our time because we have to do what's best for the schools," he said.