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School officials look for ways to cut red tape for smaller facilities projects

Staff Writer

Hoping to save time when starting projects at Lincoln County schools, Executive Director of Facilities Darrell Gettys and the School Board’s Policy Committee brainstormed ideas last week on how to clean up the construction plans process.
Currently, under regulation code 9020, various guidelines are in place to ensure local schools are bringing projects that cost more than $200 to the Board of Education’s attention, including smaller plans, such as wanting to construct a garden, place mulch or other projects that may be considered maintenance.
Tough time tables for maintaining approval for action, months before a project can be started, are not always feasible, Gettys said, another aspect of the regulation he hopes to tweak when the committee reviews the new wording of the document at January’s meeting.
Ideas for a higher dollar amount cap for projects that require approval, such as $10,000 and $50,000, were discussed, as to give Gettys’ and his team more judgment leeway with making decisions on appropriate projects and not having to consult the board when a project will cost more than the current $200 limit.
If the cost required for School Board attention is raised to a higher dollar amount, however, “due diligence” and the assurance that projects, no matter how small, are being completed properly, is still required, Gettys assures.
Doing the field work and making sound decisions can eliminate the chance of a seemingly easy and quick task costing more effort and funding later. Completing construction tasks properly will rule out the need to go back and spend more funds to fix a problem created earlier, the group agreed.
Board member Tony Jenkins cited an example from his previous time as a board member, when a project was completed incorrectly and turned into more dollars spent and having to go back and fix what should have been a quick fix.
“The intent of the policy has always been to assist schools with their decision-making process as it relates to facilities,” Gettys told the Times-News last week.
“We do encourage participation at the school level by outside parties — PTA, PTO and sports boosters — but we want to make sure that the project(s) meet our overall goals.”
Also discussed last week:
Bob Silver made proposals to keep School Board and committee meetings on a to-be-announced basis each month, re-writing the policy to no longer read Wednesdays, but to be up to the education officials’ discretion. The unanimous decision will be brought before the full group at its meeting in January for final approval. Also in regards to future meetings, was the discussion and all in-favor bid to move committee meetings to 6:30 p.m., rather than 6 p.m., to better accommodate community members, in the hopes that more will attend the public forums.
To take it one step further, a conversation was had that wasn’t so easily settled and will remain up for discussion in the coming year — the location of where the meetings will take place.
The group agreed that having a few meetings outside of the board’s office in Lincolnton may help increase patron attendance, moving the events to an area where particular topics discussed will be especially of interest to those living in that sector of the county.

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