09/19/08 — District approves plans for facilities

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District approves plans for facilities

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 19, 2008 1:41 PM

The Wayne County Board of Education has approved architectural design proposals for facilities renovation projects, which will start with five area schools and are part of a $23 million construction plan.

Eastern Wayne Proposal

Submitted rendering

This is a proposed architectural rendering of Eastern Wayne Middle School and how it will look once construction of a new two-story classroom and administrative building is complete.

At a called meeting Thursday, board members were shown site plans for each of the schools -- Brogden Primary and Eastern Wayne, Greenwood, Mount Olive and Norwayne middle schools.

Katherine Peele of the Raleigh architectural firm LS3P made the presentation and explained what will be done at each location.

At Eastern Wayne Middle, for example, they plan to "create a brand new image" when the old one-story building is demolished and a new two-story classroom and administrative building is added.

Greenwood Middle School will have a much smaller project, with four classrooms built and a connector building taken down.

Brogden Primary's long-awaited cafetorium will be a combination playroom and dining area. It will replace the existing cafeteria, which will likely be converted into traditional classrooms, said Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services.

At Mount Olive Middle, renovations will be done to the cafeteria, with upgrades to classrooms, air conditioning added to the kitchen and gym, and a redesign to the parking areas, where tree roots will also be removed.

Norwayne will have a new two-story 24-classroom building, with two existing structures demolished. The gymnasium will also be air conditioned and upgrades made to the cafeteria.

It was also recommended that traffic patterns at Norwayne be reverted to what the school once had years ago, Ms. Peele said.

The front parking lot currently used for parent drop-off -- which has often caused cars to pile up and spill out onto Norwayne School Road -- will switch places with the bus drop-off, with plans for a new canopy covering to be added.

Seeing renderings of the completed projections and hearing the presentation evoked positive comments from the board.

Board member Rick Pridgen said, "I'm just excited about it. I look at Norwayne, I think the people in the community are going to be very pleased with that. I think the people at Eastern Wayne are going to be pleased.

"I'm just overwhelmed about how these drawings look. I think the communities will be excited as well."

Board member Dave Thomas agreed, the retired coach using a sports analogy to describe his feelings over the plan.

"Our original proposals were $105 million so I'm treating this ($23 million plan) like the first quarter," he said. "We're playing the first quarter so I would like to encourage the commissioners -- we have three more quarters to play."

Board member Shirley Sims, a longtime advocate for Brogden getting a gymnasium, said, "I don't know what we'll do in Dudley. It's been so long but I know we're going to have some happy people. ... It's just a great day for us."

Vice chairman George Moye took the opportunity to comment on remarks made by County Commissioner Jack Best, who said at Tuesday's commission meeting that as a representative of the community, he believed "it is my job to hold the (school) board to the highest standards possible."

"Just for the record," Moye said, "I want it to be known that Wayne County Board of Education is elected by the people just like commissioners are and typically we're elected with less difficulty than they are.

"It's not the commissioners' job -- we are responsible to the people and sometimes they tend to forget that we're elected officials just like they are."

The school board has to watch dollars just as the commission does, Moye added, "except we have no way to raise dollars."

Superintendent of schools Dr. Steven Taylor called the process to get to this point "complicated, very time-consuming" but a long time coming.

"I know that the community and parents and students and staff and everyone involved will be excited to see everything going up," he said. "I do think it's something that we can be proud of. We're excited about getting going."