07/11/06 — Committee picked to review plan for facilities

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Committee picked to review plan for facilities

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 11, 2006 1:49 PM

The Board of Education Monday night named the joint committee that will assess school facilities needs in the county, while the board chairman discussed the possibility of a special election to enlist support for a bond referendum.

The facilities master plan team was recommended during a meeting of the school board and county commissioners May 15 with Evergreen Solutions, a consulting firm hired by the commission to determine construction and renovation projects in the school system.

Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, said there will be several working committees established to provide input and guidance on future projects. The first group, the facilities master plan team, will be composed of representatives from each of the two boards.

Committee members will include Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor, Hill, Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability, and school board members Pete Gurley, George Moye and Lehman Smith. From the county's side will be County Manager Lee Smith and commissioners Atlas Price, John Bell and Jack Best.

The group will conduct a series of advisory council meetings around the county, Hill said. In the first round of meetings, the master plan will be explained and data will be collected from the various feeder patterns, as well as working toward a financial plan.

Board member Thelma Smith noted that there were no women on the committee.

"Women don't understand buildings, apparently. Move on," said Shirley Sims, vice chairman of the school board and the only other female member.

Other board members said they were anxious to get started on the work at hand.

"I'm ready to meet. From what Evergreen said, we should be further along, (that) our plan is ready. If we're going to go through this, let's go ahead and go through this," Lehman Smith said.

"Is tomorrow night too soon?" Gurley asked.

Despite the announcement coming during the summer months, Smith said the facilities' issue is important enough that the public should make the effort to come out for community meetings.

Dr. Taylor said he would work to set up the first meeting within the next two weeks.

Board Chairman John Grantham said while early debate about a possible bond referendum to fund projects had stalled, he would still like to put the notion before the public.

"It's getting kind of late. It may not make the election cycle in November" to be put on the ballot, he said, adding his recommendation for a special election might be the way to go.

Grantham said he would actually prefer the matter be handled separately from the regular ballot to get a better read on public opinion.

"If people come out specifically for that, they must be in support. If you have a special referendum, then you can't get any more of an idea of what people want," he said. "If the people don't want it, this is a democracy. At least you'll know where they stand."