01/06/09 — Board will talk facilities Thursday

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Board will talk facilities Thursday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 6, 2009 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Board of Education will wait until Thursday to discuss facilities recommendations for the coming year and the money to pay for them.

Monday's 90-minute meeting abruptly adjourned without any discussion of the additional facilities agenda item. The meeting will reconvene Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, said afterward that the facilities committee will meet before Thursday to discuss possible cashing-out of county money earmarked for facilities.

At its Dec. 16 meeting, the county commission indicated the need for the school board to act quickly to obligate capital projects funds in case the state decides to "commandeer those funds" to offset budget shortfalls.

During Monday's meeting, the board only took action on two items, both partnership agreements for schools in the county.

Wayne School of Engin-eering at Goldsboro High School has been named one of four schools in the state that will be a national site for the North Carolina New Schools Project under the Learning Laboratory Initiative with the University of North Carolina. The three-year agreement entails demonstrating effective instruction and student support with the overall goal of graduating 100 percent of students prepared for the option of college and work.

The $2.5 million funding will be divided among the four sites, said Gary Hales, principal at Wayne School of Engineering.

It is a great opportunity for the local school, Hales said.

"We will, after a two-year period, start hosting visits from the state and national levels, that will help them with high school reform in the way that we are teaching our students," he said. "The university students want to come and partner with us."

According to the partnership agreement, as a Learning Laboratory site, Wayne School of Engineering will become a place where new teachers and school leaders can be prepared for their careers on the front lines of innovative practices in education, as well as a school where "professors in residence" can dedicate time and service to research efforts related to high school reform and foster research and understanding among school leaders in the state.

"It's going to be a great thing for Wayne County and Goldsboro High School," said Dean Sauls, director of secondary education.

Local and state officials share pride in the selection, Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said.

"We competed against schools that already had four grade levels," he said. "For this school in its infancy to be selected is a credit to Hales and his staff."

Officials behind the project are also excited about the selection and what Wayne School of Engineering is doing, he added.

Board member Shirley Sims said she was particularly pleased to hear about professors in residence coming to the school.

"I think we're going to see a lot of change in the reform of our high school when the two get together and see what the other is doing," she said. "This is going to be great for education in North Carolina."

The board also approved an articulation agreement bet-ween the school system and Johnston Community College for credits in the area of heavy equipment and transport technology.

This is the first such agreement with a community college other than Wayne Community College, said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

It is specifically for the diesel academy introduced this school year at Southern Wayne High School, "the only diesel program of its kind in North Carolina," said Dr. John Boldt, the school's principal.

According to the agreement, Johnston Community College will grant college credit to students upon successful completion of credits in the program.

The school's academy has already drawn marked interest from both students and parents, Boldt said.

"We have 15 students enrolled in the first level course, but we had over 80 students interested," he said.

It is ideal in that the program provides training and expertise, as well as great potential for an excellent career, Boldt said.

Rudy West heads the program at Southern Wayne. Students completing all three levels receive diesel engine certification, he said. By affiliating with Johnston, they can also receive college certification and then enroll in a diploma or associate degree program there, or go directly into the workforce.

"We feel real good about the program," he said. "We have had a lot of interest (including from) the business community."

In the future, West added, he hopes to see the program become nationally certified.