10/06/13 — School board, commissioners plan meeting

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School board, commissioners plan meeting

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 6, 2013 1:50 AM

It will be as late as Monday before the agenda will be ready for Tuesday's joint meeting between the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and the county Board of Education to discuss school facility needs.

The agenda will definitely include a presentation on the county's $257 million capital improvement plan, which includes the public schools and Wayne Community College.

In addition to the construction costs, the plan also includes financial analysis, funding operations and the impact of operational costs.

The meeting will be 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at Lane Tree Golf Club.

Commissioners have not mentioned the meeting since it was scheduled at the conclusion of their July 30 session with the Board of Education. At that meeting, some school board members questioned why commissioners had come up with their own school facilities plan.

School board members said they had been unaware of the plan until it surfaced at a commission meeting. Commissioners also retained the services of an architect for their school plan.

At the previous meeting, school board members also asked commissioners about comments they said questioned the school board's capabilities.

Members also called on commissioners to set aside "personal politics." Closed-door meetings between commissioners and some school board members needed to stop as well, they said.

Since that time, commissioners have approved the purchase price of $212,500 for a 35.499-acre site for a new Spring Creek Middle School.

Also, the school board has said it will hire its own architect.

No real progress was made at the July meeting, nor any decisions other than setting the stage for the Oct. 8 meeting.

The follow-up meeting was suggested by Commissioner John Bell.

Bell said no action should be taken until a clearer financial picture emerges. He recommended that County Manager Lee Smith and the county Finance Department staff and their counterparts in the school system meet with Davenport and Associates, the consulting firm that assists the county in financial planning.

Smith said a meeting was set up with county school officials.

Bell said the meeting would provide a clearer financial picture, while offering options as well. The results of that meeting would then be presented during the Oct. 8 session, he said.

Schools superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said plans are to proceed with the Oct. 8 meeting, which he called a continuation of the discussion at the July 30 joint meeting. He offered no specifics about what would be said at the meeting.

Taylor and Smith expected to meet late last week to iron out the agenda.