07/02/07 — Schools will get busy on priorities

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Schools will get busy on priorities

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 2, 2007 1:46 PM

After sitting down with the Wayne County Board of Commissioners more than a month ago, the school board is still putting together its prioritized list of facility projects.

At the time, school board Chairwoman Shirley Sims indicated the board wanted to move quickly to get that information to the county, but school Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said last week that it's taking a little longer than officials had originally anticipated.

"We've been a little bit delayed getting it all together, but we're finally through the budget and now this is going to be the next step," he said.

Since that May 22 meeting, which members of both boards said was successful in getting the county and school officials on the same page, those on the school board have been putting together their own individual priority lists.

So far, Taylor said, there are more similarities than there are differences.

"In some cases, they are (in line), and in some there are some differences. As you'd expect with a board of seven members, they each have their thoughts about the priority order," he said. "But now they've got to come together in a formal way.

"My plan is for the board to meet within the next two weeks and have a work session so they can finalize the priority list."

Currently, the school system's facility plan stands at a cost of about $120 million. That total includes not only the construction and renovation of 17 schools, but also the accompanying operating costs.

The commissioners, however, requested that those projects be broken down into a numbered, item-by-item priority list so they begin to plan how best to fund the long-range program.

"We had looked at the entire list as being a priority, but the commissioners asked us to prioritize the individual items," Taylor said.

So, they are. And most of them are likely using the prioritized list they submitted three years ago as a guide, school board member Rick Pridgen said.

"It's hard to say what other people have done, but I think the majority of us probably followed along with the priority guidelines of that list," he said.

That means, he continued, that those schools in high-growth areas experiencing overcrowding are likely to be at the top of his and everybody else's list. Also near the top of all the lists, he added, will probably be a multipurpose room for Brogden Primary -- a longstanding priority for the board.

"I really do think (the lists) are not going to be that far off. I think pretty much the board's been united as for what they feel the priority projects should be," Pridgen said.