06/06/06 — Board backs school bond

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Board backs school bond

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 6, 2006 1:53 PM

The Board of Education is backing a bond referendum to fund projects in the school system and would like to see county commissioners include it on the November ballot for public approval, officials said Monday night.

The move came on the heels of findings released last month by Evergreen Solutions, a Florida consulting firm hired by commissioners to assess the school district's needs. At a meeting last week with the community advisory council, which includes representatives from each of the county schools, the school board hinted that a bond issue was possible.

In addition to Evergreen's recommendations that the school system submit a facilities master plan and a five-year facilities plan, the suggestion was also made that professional design fees be included in the first year of funding for the plan, which could be reimbursed from proceeds of a bond issue.

John P. Grantham, board chairman, said the board supported a bond issue or other means of funding the projects in the five-year facilities plan.

"The Wayne County Board of Education does hereby go on record as fully supporting the Wayne County Board of Commissioners in preparing and submitting to the citizens of Wayne County a bond referendum to be voted on at the earliest possible date, as well as the use of other means of providing funds in an amount sufficient to fund the projects in the five-year facilities plan," he said.

A copy of the resolution was to be forwarded to the commission for further action.

The board unanimously approved the resolution, saying "it's time" to acquire the necessary facilities funding.

"It's long overdue for the schools," said board member Lehman Smith. "I think from our meeting the other night the public will support this."

Board member Pete Gurley agreed.

"People went out of here pumped up -- they wanted to know what do we need to do -- I think really the time is right and I think it's got a good opportunity to be passed," he said.

"I think it does, too," Grantham said. He said he has gotten a favorable impression from people he has spoken with recently, even ones who do not have children in the school system.

Smith said he would like to see the proposal appear on the November ballot. The sooner action is taken, the sooner school projects can begin, he said.

"I fully support the resolution and look forward to receiving some money (to) start work on the whole list of our five-year plan," he said.

No amount for the bond was announced, but the proposed five-year facilities plan total is $90 million.

In other action, the board approved a $37 million interim operating budget for the school system for July, August and September.

Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance, said the budget reflects one-fourth of the total 2005-06 budget figures. Action on the interim budget was required since the state legislature has not yet adopted the 2006-06 budget, she said. The school system is also awaiting approval from county commissioners for the local budget portion.