01/09/09 — School board to ask for $5M from lottery funds

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School board to ask for $5M from lottery funds

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 9, 2009 1:46 PM

The Board of Education voted Thursday to request $5.5 million in lottery funds from the state be used for three construction projects -- at Mount Olive Middle, Brogden Primary and Greenwood Middle schools.

Wayne County commissioners recently raised concerns about available funding should the state's budget shortfall result in a demand from officials that the money be redirected. With $23 million in initial construction projects hanging in the balance, school officials opted not to take any chances on a setback.

The board recessed its regular Monday meeting before discussing the facilities construction plan, opting to reconvene at noon Thursday with its recommendations.

Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, said the suggestion to look at cashing out some of the lottery funds seemed wise. With the assistance of construction management on the proposed projects, several options were explored.

"What we want to do is do the projects that meet how much money we have," he said, which equated to $5 million in lottery funds, typically doled out to school districts throughout the year.

Three projects -- Mount Olive Middle, Brogden Primary and Greenwood Middle -- fell into the category that could be paid for through the lottery funds.

"That will be under our direction, Wayne County Public Schools, and will not have to go through the Local Government Commission," Hill said.

"It will reduce some obligation by the county, which is good, and then we, of course, use our lottery money for what it was intended for, construction," added Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent.

Taylor said officials had already spoken with the Department of Public Ins-truction about the situation.

"Our sense is that probably what we have in the accounts is safe," he said. "Any future allocations can be looked at by the state."

The move would also reduce the amount of money the county would have to borrow, Hill said -- and, he pointed out, the amount the school district would have to pay back.

Tapping into the lottery resources could allow construction to start earlier, by not having to go through the Local Government Commission, said Randy Langston, construction manager for the facilities plan.

"It's really a blessing in disguise -- the way the economy is now, you won't get a better price than right now," he said.

"This is based on the design development bid. We might even get a better price, reduce our price even more," Hill added.

Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance, will submit the $5,513,522 request for lottery funds.

Additional projects on the initial timeline -- Eastern Wayne Middle and Norwayne Middle schools -- will continue as planned, except through the Local Government Commission.

"That means that the county will borrow the funds (and go) through the LGC," explained Jack Edwards, board attorney.

In other business, the board voted to change its meeting date next month to Feb. 9 due to scheduling conflicts and approved a request to name the Goldsboro High School gymnasium in honor of a former coach.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni petitioned the board to name the gymnasium the Norvell T. Lee Athletic Complex. Lee had a local coaching career that spanned 1964 until his retirement in 1994, then became head coach at his alma mater, St. Augustine's College, where he provided scholarships for Wayne County students to play on his team.

Board member Thelma Smith made the motion for the recognition.

"His impact in this community is really, really great," she said. "We just feel that he has been a tremendous influence on the young men and women here ... and hold him in high esteem."