11/03/08 — Officials stay on track with facilities

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Officials stay on track with facilities

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 3, 2008 1:46 PM

School officials remain guardedly optimistic about what the economic situation means for facilities in Wayne County Public Schools.

After all, they have made it this far in the process.

As recently as Oct. 21, Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, gave the county commission a progress report on the construction projects for the district. Some of them are scheduled to begin in the spring.

"It's really out of our hands," he said. "But we're moving forward with the timeline that R.N. Rouse along with (architect) LS3P has prepared."

Initial drawings and designs are supposed to be ready by mid-November, Hill said, with hopes the school board will give approval. Construction documents and bids will follow, with information to be sent to County Manager Lee Smith for further approval by the Local Government Commission.

"We're going to move forward with our fingers crossed," Hill said. "That's as realistic and honest as I can be."

He said he understands the looming financial concerns but feels it's realistic to proceed unless they're told otherwise.

"We're going to try to be as optimistic as we can but realistic as well," he said. "We'll continue to move in a positive direction hoping that the economy continues to pick up."

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, shared similar sentiments.

"I think as far as the downturn in the economy, we're certainly keeping our eyes on that," he said. "Our hope and prayer is that will not impact our progress. To date we have not received any word that that's going to be a hurdle to us in any way."

Taylor said the intent is to trust that money for the projects will come through as needed.

"Right now I'm optimistic. There's been some positive turn in the markets," he said. "We're hopeful that things are going to be in place and we can move forward. We certainly don't want to stop progress at this point. We have made a lot of progress in the last year."

Calling it a "what if" situation, Taylor said from his discussions with Smith, he has every reason to be confident.

"I have heard some bad news in other districts. Obviously we're not requesting the same amount of money as Wake County and some of the larger districts," he said. "To my knowledge, the county has a good bond rating. Hopefully that will help us to move forward when the time comes to make the application."