Several School Board members responded in frustration Monday as they looked at badly needed construction projects for which there just isn’t enough funding.
“This is just an embarrassment at this point,” School Board member Bob Silver said.
Board Chairman Ed Hatley agreed with Silver, but wants to be cautious about what to do next. Making sure that the costly projects aren’t just Band-Aids to bigger problems is important to consider, he said, “not just a short-term fix for a long-term problem.”
Superintendent Sherry Hoyle said her team will start doing the fieldwork to figure out a plan.
Darrell Gettys, executive director of facilities, presented the list of projects to the board, reporting on a survey taken about two months ago, when members of his team visited every school in the county to find areas where construction was most needed. The group brought back a list of 10 schools that would be most beneficial from the efforts.
Lincolnton High’s track is also in need of serious repairs, Gettys told the committee.
At first, he estimated about $60,000 for repairs, but after discovering new problems, like poor curbing that lines the track, construction is put at about $300,000 to fix the area.
Gettys is gong to research areas where he may be able to draw in some funding for the project, but is unsure what he has to work with just yet.
LHS has had to go to other schools for track events, because of the shape its field is in, Gettys reported.
Silver and Hatley were adamant about Lincolnton High having the same facilities available to it that other county schools have.
No action has been taken on the issue, yet.
West Lincoln High’s student parking lot was one of the bigger projects that is on the list, estimated to cost up to $400,000.
In one bit of good news on construction projects, Gettys also spoke on the Iron Station fire line design plan that had the potential to cost about $25,000 but is now expected to be much cheaper.
Gettys clarified that there had been miscommunication with the Fire Marshall, and the fix won’t be as costly as originally thought now that the construction team is going to stick with dry fire line, rather than switching to wet line.
Also on the agenda during Monday’s board committee meetings was a discussion of the ongoing school lunch pricing issue, led by Child Nutrition Director Byron Sackett.
As a result of a mandate released in January, new regulations are set for the types of items being put on students’ plates in the cafeteria. Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, parents in Lincoln County will see an increase in how much they pay for their children to eat at school in order to meet the regulations of the new law.
There are two main options for how to introduce the price increase of $2.50, up from a current rate of $2.25.
Option one will introduce the new price all at once, getting it out of the way and locking in $2.50 for the next three years, Sackett said.
Option two will stagger the increase over the next three years, which Hatley and School Board Vice-Chairman Candy Burgin believe will lighten the blow parents may feel of having to pay more. Sackett warned, though, that choosing this option would not lock in $2.50, which could have school lunches up to $2.73 by the 2014-2015 school year. Because the amount is based on the Consumer Price Index, which is a “moving target,” the price could continue to increase over the years, Sackett said.
After a motion and vote, the committee ruled in favor of the first option, Sackett’s recommendation, and will present it to the School Board for action at next month’s meeting.
Virtual high school
The committee wrapped up with a brief discussion on virtual high school – a program in which parents who homeschool their children are paid for their instruction; funding is comparable to that of charter schools.
Silver worries that some may take advantage of the funding and since there is no monitoring of how the allotments are used, there is no way to oversee that money given to the parents is being used in an ethical way.
All members sided with the North Carolina School Board Association in voting against virtual high school, except Clayton Mullis.