08/27/06 — Facilities meetings start Monday

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Facilities meetings start Monday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 27, 2006 2:05 AM

The first of six community meetings to discuss the county's school facilities needs is set for Monday in the northern end of the county.

The series of forums is being conducted by the Facilities Master Plan Team, which is composed of representatives from the Board of Education and the county commission. They are designed to elicit responses from the schools' advisory councils and the public about the school building construction needs and how the county will pay for them.

Several facilities plans have been considered in recent years by the school board, but none have been implemented. When Evergreen Solutions, a consulting firm, was hired by the commission to assess the most pressing district needs, the school system was asked to provide a five-year plan. That plan, for $90 million, is being used as a springboard for discussion in the meetings that begin this week.

Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, said background information has been sent to the advisory councils in the feeder patterns for the six public high schools.

"They are supposed to bring us back information from the community," he said.

The forums are divided into two segments, Hill said. The first portion of the meetings will focus on input from the advisory councils.

"The last part will be time for the community to address their concerns and interests," he said, noting that there will be some constraints, such as a five-minute time limit per person. The committee will also not respond or take action during that segment and, Hill said, "if it gets too personal, we'll stop."

Recommendations collected from each of the forums will be submitted to the Board of Education because, Hill said, state statute dictates the school board will approve the final plan.

"The board will listen. They always have listened, and they'll act accordingly," he said.

Hill said it is imperative that the advisory councils obtain input from the communities in which they are located and in turn provide that information to the committee. It is also a great opportunity for the school board and the commission to work together, he said.

"We have waited long enough. Let's get this thing moving," he said. "We just want to move on with a plan."

Whatever direction is taken following the series of meetings, Hill said that under Evergreen's recommendations, there will always be a five-year plan.

"It's a living document," he said. "Next year. we're talking about what to do to add to that plan. That means, what do we ask the county commissioners for and there are no surprises."

By planning ahead, Hill said future disagreements about county schools' needs and available funding will be few. There will be a roadmap and limits already in place.

"This is now an ongoing project, hopefully from now on, that we can have a consensus from the two groups, a plan that we can work with."

Facilities, he said, equates to walls, lights, and air conditioning. But it extends to more than that.

"We want to make sure that the buildings that we're constructing meet the needs of the community, the educational programs that we have in place," he said.

The locations for the six meetings are as follows. All will be on Mondays and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

*Monday at Charles B. Aycock High School, serving also Belfast Academy, Fremont Stars, Northeast and Northwest elementary schools and Norwayne Middle.

*Sept. 11 at Spring Creek High School, serving also Spring Creek Elementary School.

*Sept. 18 at Goldsboro High School, serving also Carver Heights, School Street and North Drive elementary schools, Dillard Middle, Goldsboro Intermediate and Edgewood Community Developmental School.

*Sept. 25 at Southern Wayne High School, serving also Brogden Middle, Brogden Primary, Carver Elementary, Grantham School, Mount Olive Middle and Southern Academy.

*Oct. 2 at Rosewood High School, serving also Rosewood middle and elementary schools.

*Oct. 9 at Eastern Wayne High School, serving also Eastern Wayne elementary and middle schools, Greenwood Middle, Meadow Lane and Tommy's Road elementary schools.