05/14/06 — Consultant's reports on school facilities is back

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Consultant's reports on school facilities is back

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 14, 2006 2:06 AM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education will meet Monday to listen to a consultant's long-awaited presentation concerning the finances and facilities needs of the county's public school system.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said Dr. Linda Recio and Tom Martin of Florida-based Evergreen Solutions will present the company's findings to members of both boards at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Wayne County Schools administrative offices on Royal Avenue.

The commissioners hired the consultant last year for $120,000 to complete a detailed report outlining the schools' facilities needs and both boards' finances after questions arose about the district's funding requests and the county's budget limitations.

The report was originally scheduled for completion April 1. Various setbacks delayed the completion date until this month.

Most recently, Evergreen Solutions representatives told Smith they lacked a five-year facilities plan from the school board to finish the report.

Wayne County Schools public information officer Ken Derksen and assistant superintendent for auxiliary services Sprunt Hill said the school board was not informed that the plan was a requirement for Evergreen Solutions to complete the study.

Hill said he thought the board provided Evergreen "every piece of paper multiple times."

The school board had submitted the entire facilities report to the commissioners, but the information had to be reformatted into a five-year facilities plan for Evergreen Solutions, Hill said. Since then, the board has complied with the request.

Smith said he and Superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor will meet in advance of Monday's presentation to decide what the county and schools' next step will be as the budget process continues for 2006-07.

"Dr. Taylor and I will meet earlier that day to hopefully develop a process for after this meeting. There is a lot of information in the study that we have to look at. It would help us both to set up a process," Smith said.

He added that he would like both boards to discuss legislative issues Monday night concerning schools, including increasing teachers' salaries and cuts in the state budget , so the two boards can develop joint decisions on the issues that will affect not only the schools, but the county.

One of those joint efforts might be lobbying for some of the estimated $982 million state budget surplus, Smith said.

"Since they've got a little extra money in Raleigh, I think it's time for them to help us out," he said.

Monday's meeting will be the first of several joint sessions between the boards so each body can prepare its next fiscal year budget. By state law, the school board can't present its budget until Monday. The county budget must go into effect on July 1.