Fremont Mayor Darron Flowers lobbied for additional classrooms at Fremont STARS Elementary School during a recent Wayne County board of education meeting.
It was his third time asking about the status of the potential construction since August. Flowers has twice asked the Wayne County commissioners about the school, especially after learning that Southern Wayne High stands the chance of getting a new gymnasium.
Flowers told the school board, during its Monday meeting, that he wanted to ensure Fremont was not forgotten or displaced on the list of proposed building projects.
At the Oct. 2 commission meeting, he said he met with the school board some six to eight months ago, expressing his belief about the importance of classrooms in the northern end of the county.
“A couple years ago, this (school) board identified building construction needs and presented them to the county commissioners,” he said during public comment at Monday’s meeting. “The commissioners funded those needs and included in those needs were classrooms for Fremont STARS.
“Since that time, your staff met with the town board staff, the Fremont town board, and they discussed construction of those classrooms. Since that time, we’ve heard nothing about those classrooms.”
Flowers said it was his understanding that other projects are proceeding — Meadow Lane Elementary is under construction, Northwest Elementary School is in the bid process and Southern Wayne at the pre-bid stage.
But what about Fremont’s classrooms, he asked.
He said he intended to speak to the school board earlier, but then the hurricane interrupted his plans.
Flowers also said he attended a facilities committee meeting but the process does not allow for public comment, so he was unable to ask questions.
“If I’d asked it there, I probably would not be here asking it here,” he told the board, adding that when he signed in to speak at the regular monthly meeting, he indicated he was representing himself but that was not entirely true.
“I am actually representing the community because this is becoming a community concern over the lack of talk about what the status is. The least we can know is who to talk with to find out what that status is.”
Wayne County Public Schools’ Superintendent Michael Dunsmore said one delay has been awaiting the engineering studies. Before any work can begin on such a project, there is a process, he said.
Another concern has been the sewage system, he noted, as well as use of public funds. Any money earmarked for Fremont is still there, though.
“(That) can’t be used for anything else until we resolve those questions,” he said.
Flowers said he understood issues with the sewage system but that discussion centers around existing classrooms. His request is about new classroom additions, which would be independent of the school building already there.
He also mentioned the rampant rumors circulating around the area, which he told the board he hopes to alleviate by getting input from district leadership.
Board member Rick Pridgen said he has also received several calls from concerned citizens, all with different versions of the story.
“There are lots of rumors from that we’re going to close the school all the way to we’re not going to build the buildings and keep the school like it is,” he said. “It’s very difficult as a board member, especially if you’re not serving on the facilities committee.
“I just feel like we need to be more in the communication phase of where we’re at.”
Board chairman Patricia Burden suggested a meeting be scheduled with the superintendent, Flowers and Tim Harrell, director of project operations, to further discuss all sides of the issue.