09/10/06 — School facilities meeting at Spring Creek Monday

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School facilities meeting at Spring Creek Monday

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 10, 2006 2:04 AM

The team of county and school officials charged with determining where and how much money will be spent on school facilities in Wayne County is headed to Spring Creek High Monday.

The Master Facilities Plan team, which includes representatives from the school board and the Board of Commissioners, is holding the second of six public forums at Spring Creek at 6:30 p.m. to discuss school facilities issues and to hear residents' concerns about education in Wayne County. This meeting is designed for parents and students in the Spring Creek High feeder system, which includes Spring Creek High, Spring Creek Elementary and Spring Creek Middle schools.

At the first public forum at Charles B. Aycock High School, more than 200 residents told the committee about overcrowding in schools in the northern part of the county.

The school board and commissioners are considering a $90 bond referendum that would provide funds to fix some of facilities problems facing schools across the county. The forums will allow both boards to present information to the public on conditions at the schools as well as the costs for repairs or new construction,Commissioner John Bell said.

The format for Monday's meeting and public forum will be similar to the Aug. 28 gathering at Charles B. Aycock, said Sprunt Hill, Wayne County Schools assistant superintendent for auxiliary services.

During the first half of the meeting, members of both boards plan to present an overview of the process proposed by Evergreen Solutions, the firm hired by the county to assess school facilities needs, and their expectations for the master plan team and the county schools, Hill said.

"The process we have keeps everybody informed, so we shouldn't have any surprises," he said.

Bell said repeating the same information across the county keeps every resident and board member on the same page.

"If we're talking about $90 million, we should talk about it countywide," Bell said.

County commissioners and school board members realize that this meeting will be different from the first gathering, Hill said. During each facilities master plan team meeting, audience members are offered the chance to voice their concerns to county and school officials -- and each area has different needs.

"If you look at the surface, the new Spring Creek Elementary was built for 650 children, and our latest numbers have attendance at 888. There is growth in that area, and when you put that data in the mixer, we know we need more classrooms," Hill said.

It is that kind of data that will help administrators, officials and the general public gain a better understanding of the county's needs, Hill said. During this "fact-based mission," Hill said he hopes the public will share all of their concerns so they can be taken into consideration as development of a final five-year facilities plan continues.

Since the facilities plan is an ever-changing document, Hill said each citizen's concerns will be considered. As recommended in the Evergreen Solutions report, the school board has created a five-year plan that will be adjusted each year.

"After the first year is done, we add another so it continues to be a five-year plan. Although we have been talking about $90 million for our needs, we are pulling from our $300 million facilities plan, so it continues to be a five-year plan," Hill said.

As the public forums continue, Bell said he hopes board members and residents continue to talk about all aspects of education in the county.

"I hope people talk about buildings and the educational process," he said.

The next public forum will be next Monday at Goldsboro High School. The meeting will represent Goldsboro High, Carver Heights, North Drive and School Street elementary schools, Edgewood Community Developmental School, Dillard Middle and Goldsboro Intermediate.