A new school year is coming up and leaders from Sampson County Schools are considering several projects to provide better buildings for students.
The needs range from better athletic facilities to a shared bus facility with Clinton City Schools (CCS) on Indian Town Road. During a Tuesday morning work session for the Sampson Board of Education, there was an agreement that CCS should help pay for a new roof.
Mark Hammond, executive director of auxiliary services for the district, and Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy presented a list of capital outlay projects for the 2017-18 school year. Board chairman Tim Register and other members stressed the importance of prioritizing. Some of the projects at the top included a new student parking lot at Lakewood High School, a new roof over the science section of Hobbton High School and security upgrades at The Learning Center at Charles E. Perry.
The estimated costs of the needs were not listed because a bid process is required. A lot of the projects will be absorbed through the plant operations budget, which includes more than $4 million in local funding. Register noted that the list of more than 50 projects will be narrowed down by Hammond and Bracy.
However, one of them going on the back-burner is the roof project for the bus garage. Officials from the county believe Clinton should chip in on costs. During the meeting, it was revealed that Clinton Schools would not make a contribution, following a conversation between Bracy and Dr. CCS Superintendent Stuart Blount.
“They said they would not help to pay for that roof and they didn’t give us any reason,” Register said.
Register and Bracy plan to speak with the CCS Board of Education to see if they do not have the money or if they feel that they are not responsible. In the process, Register said he would like to research the history of the building and the agreement between the school systems.
“I personally cannot support us putting a roof on the bus garage at this time until we done some more exploration, and to go back to Clinton City to see if we can get them to help us to pick up their share,” the board chairman remarked.
State officials give counties one fleet apiece, but Register continued to stress that CCS uses the facility too.
“Certainly, I would think that they have a responsibility to maintain that building as a result,” he said.
With the building being a shared facility, another possibility is using tax money from Sampson County officials that is set aside for roof repairs. Later, there was a consensus to push the garage project down the list until they get more answers from CCS.
Other priorities included replacements for chillers and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems for several schools. When it came to providing comfortable temperatures for students, board members said it was a priority.
While going over the list, board member Mary Brown and Register questioned if new desks and chairs were necessary at this point. Register added that upgrading fall surfacing for playground equipment should be first.
“If that’s a real safety issue, then it needs to come to the top of the list,” Register said.
Vice-chairwoman Kim Schmidlin brought up a ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) ramp for the front of the building for Midway Elementary School, while showing concern for handicapped students. Currently, the students will have to come through the cafeteria or another side of the building. The project is near the top of the list.
“That something that needs to be done,” Hammond said.
An updated list of projects will be presented during the next work session in August.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.