Board reviews timeline for new school

Regional Science Olympiad winners were honored during Monday’s school board meeting. They attended the state competition at N.C. State University. (From left) Brady Jenkins, Matthew Kirkpatrick and Emma Owenby. (Not pictured): Hunter English, OakLynn Mackey and Cassidy Mueller.

At last week’s McDowell Board of Education meeting, board members looked at a tentative start date on the construction of a new school for Old Fort Elementary.

Greg Barksdale, chairman of the building and grounds committee, gave an update on the work session board members held recently with the architect. Drawings of a new school are currently in the works, Barksdale said.

“Hopefully we will be able to open bids on Oct. 1 and close bids by Nov. 1. Construction would start around Dec. 1 if everything goes right,” said Barksdale. “We are looking at 20 months of construction if weather permits. And hoping, if all goes well, it will be finished by Aug. 1 of 2020. Once all this starts, there is no turning back.”

Barksdale went over some issues they have come across in the planning stages, as well as some cost-saving initiatives.

“One of the big things we found out is we will not have to relocate the sewer system. There is a guesstimate we have to remove an oil tank at $15,000, but another big savings is we will move to natural gas,” he said. “We also looked at the case of funding and shortfalls and different ways to save money.”

Superintendent Mark Garrett said the historical division has not viewed the paperwork sent in on the auditorium and gymnasium. Old Fort’s representative Patrick Ellis said the grant proposal is currently getting filled out to be submitted in August and the board should hear back from that in October.

Another item under unfinished business is the new school safety protocols the school board approved at the last meeting.

“You approved at the last meeting a monetary commitment to complete a project at West Middle and McDowell High’s campus as a way to strengthen that perimeter during the day and at night. We are getting bids and pricing on all the items we need including the gating on the Freshman Academy,” said Garrett.

He commended Sheriff Dudley Greene on the adding extra patrol to the county schools that do not have fulltime school resource officers.

“Sheriff Greene is implementing on student days 30 minutes before school and 30 minutes after school for a full time deputy to be on those campuses. The greatest benefit is the deputies interacting with those kids in a positive manner. The county commission is working on securing funding to continue that in the future,” said Garrett.

In other business:

-Chief Academic Officer Laura Davis shared a video and information on the MCS STEM Program. Susan Westall recognized students who represented MCS at the state science fair.

-Renata Crawley reported on West Marion Elementary’ s 10 years with the Journey on the Borroughs Welcome Grant that has totaled $780,000 for the district. The grant is a science enrichment grant. She also shared information on the Science Clubs at Eastfield, Nebo, Glenwood and Pleasant Gardens.

-Nancy Hunter and Kay Medford are two of McDowell County’s Board of Education representatives to the McDowell Tech Board of Trustees. They shared information on collaborative efforts between the two boards and the community in order to provide educational opportunities in McDowell County.

-Teacher of the Year Ben Moore shared research on STEM vs. STEAM: Do the arts belong?

-The board voted unanimously to approve the Take Two Program for the summer of 2018 presented by Crystal Hamby. She also shared information on Read to Achieve.

-Board member Amy Moomaw gave a Head Start updated and highlighted the School Readiness Progress Report from December 2017 to March 2018.

-Board member Brian Piercy reported on legislative issues being shared from the N.C. School Board Association.

-Board member Terry English shared information on future finance committee meetings and preparations for the 2018-2019 budget.

-Garrett gave his administrative reports.

-The board went into closed session for personnel considerations.

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