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Mecklenburg supervisors opt to get help with search for location of school complex
SoVaNow.com / February 15, 2017The Mecklenburg Board of Supervisors and School Board have jumped on board together with plans to build a single countywide school complex for students in the upper grades, but potential differences over how to pick a building site bubbled up Monday at the supervisors’ monthly meeting in Boydton.
Supervisors agreed to hire an engineering and architectural firm to scout out suitable locations for the new school, which would serve students in grades 6-12 and replace four outdated facilities in Bluestone Middle and High School and Park View Middle and High School. With many miles to straddle in the far-flung county, supervisors said hiring a professional advisory firm to identify optimal locations was a logical next step.
“We need to hire someone who can guide us as to the type of site we need,” said chairman Glenn Barbour of the board’s decision. “We need to keep the process moving.
“Until we have a site, we’re not going forward.”
Discussions by supervisors were framed by a prior motion of the School Board, which flipped from dogged support for two middle school/high school complexes to backing a single, countywide complex with a 5-4 vote in December. At that time, school trustees agreed to endorse construction of a single school — heeding supervisors’ demands — but the bare majority of trustees asked that the new facility be built somewhere between Park View High School in South Hill and the Town of Boydton.
On Monday, the supervisors declined an opportunity to embrace that request, and instead passed a resolution that said “the Board cannot at present commit to any specific site or specific area as the location for the Consolidated School” due to unknowns regarding utility and infrastructure needs with potential sites.
In response to Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols, who asked if the prospective engineering firm also get involved in designing the new school facility, both Barbour and joint education committee chair Claudia Lundy affirmed that supervisors are merely seeking help with site selection.
School trustee Dale Sturdifen urged supervisors not to leave the School Board out of the decision-making process.
Sturdifen sought assurances that funds for the new school would not be spent unnecessarily, since “there’s only one pot of money.” He also expressed hope that the joint education committee — comprised of both trustees and supervisors — would select an architectural firm that would get involved in both site selection and building design.
“They go hand-in-hand,” Sturdifen said, adding that “ultimately, the School Board has to vote on the location” for the new complex.
Supervisors vice chairman Gregg Gordon read from an email he previously sent to members of the joint education committee expressing his concerns about the idea of building the new school near Route 4 and U.S. 58, miles east of Boydton.
Producing a Google Earth map with yellow- and red-colored circles that purported to represent the length of bus rides for county children living in areas such as Buffalo Junction and Nelson, compared to eastern-end communities like Bracey, Gordon argued his constituents would be disadvantaged by the “limited scope” of a Route 4 site.
“It becomes painfully obvious to me that the Route 4 location discriminates against the entire western side of our county. I am excited about moving forward with this project in the correct way,” said Gordon.
Barbour also sought to quell the concerns of board members Dan Tanner and Glanzy Spain who wondered if supervisors were overstepping their authority by involving themselves in the selection of a consultant. “I think right now an engineer or architect will give us a pretty good idea about the type of site we need based on the number of students,” Barbour said.
He added that the School Board is responsible for developing the educational curriculum and seeing that the building is designed to meet the needs of that curriculum.
Barbour said he was simply trying to keep the project moving by taking the next logical step, and there were no plans to take the project out of the hands of school trustees. “The School Board will have input into the process through the joint education committee.
County Attorney Russell Slayton added his legal opinion that Supervisors have the authority to participate in the hiring process of a consultant.
Lundy said her hope is that the joint education and property committees will meet and approve a draft RFP to hire a site selection consultant before the next regular meetings of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board, and that a groundbreaking for the new school facility take place before the end of this year.
Board passes school resolution
The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to affirm their commitment to the construction of a consolidated school for middle school and high school grades in the county. The resolution reads as follows:
“WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors has afforded due consideration to the matters addressed in the School Board’s resolution;
WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors hereby states its concurrence with the School Board’s decision that a new consolidated high school and middle school complex (“Consolidated School”) should be constructed for Mecklenburg County; and
WHEREAS, because construction of a Consolidated School will necessitate expenditures which are now unknown, such as cost of land acquisition, cost of extending utility lines to the Consolidated School, and other costs, the Board cannot at present commit to any specific site or specific area as the location for the Consolidated School.
IT IS, ACCORDINGLY, HEREBY RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisors reaffirms its commitment to construction of a Consolidated School, and its intent to compare project costs for each potential site of the Consolidated School, which costs would include land acquisition, provision of utility service, and other project costs, and the Board of Supervisors also reaffirms its intent to consider factors such as the distance traveled by students who attend the Consolidated School.”
CommentsOh, Lordy Almighty... Hire some more consultants , spend more money ...What ever did happen to the ability to---Make a decision.
- By Landlubba Bubba on 02 / 15 / 17
CommentsBarbour said that there are "no plans to take the project out of the hands of school trustees." Uhm, didn't the Board of Supervisors already do that when they said they would only fund one consolidated 6-12 campus? He added that the "School Board is responsible for developing the educational curriculum and seeing that the building is designed to meet the needs of that curriculum." Wouldn't that then also imply that it should have been up to the School Board to decide whether students are best served by a single campus or multiple campuses?
- By The_only_educated_one? on 02 / 15 / 17
CommentsTalking out of both sides of their mouth. The school board made the decision for keeping separate schools. The Supes said NO! Now the school board has given up and moved forward and the supes say well not unless it's where we want it. Aka Boydton. Tell me how the school board is able to make the decisions. The supes just want a monument to themselves with their names in the corner stones in Boydton for all to behold. Mark my words! By the time this gets done we could have built 4 new schools as the majority wished for in the first place for less money. It's a good thing they serve more than two year terms. I'm just hoping it takes them 6 yrs to do it so my children don't have to move to new schools. We already have land for seperate schools so let's move forward with that! No Consolidated Mega School! Keep our community schools!
- By Tacpayer on 02 / 15 / 17
CommentsMaybe they can repurpose the old Mecklenburg Correctional Facility on HWY 58.
- By Gunner on 02 / 17 / 17
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