LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS: Board opposes N.C. counties' involvement in school property

Feb. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

On a Tuesday night otherwise filled with recognitions and presentations, the Lee County Board of Education opposed legislation allowing counties to construct, own or acquire public school sites and facilities.

A resolution, expressing the board's dissent with "any proposed legislation that would authorize counties to assume control of school property," got the board's support during its regular meeting. The North Carolina School Boards Association provided a draft resolution for local boards to consider.

The resolution is reportedly in response to actions by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners — whose 2013-14 legislative agenda includes support for policies concerning school property. The dissenting resolution, which states that "public school placement, design and maintenance" are key elements of local school boards' authority, easily passed the Lee School Board without discussion.

"I think it's self explanatory," Chairman Lynn Smith said after the board had adjourned to closed session.

Board member John Bonardi agreed, saying the resolution "speaks for itself."

"State law gives that responsibility to board members," he said, "and I think it needs to remain that way."

The vote was unanimous with the exception of board member Wendy Carlyle, who was not present.

Several community members addressed the board on other issues during the public comment period. Sandra Bowen spoke about a proposed change to a year-round calendar, telling the board that she had left a previous meeting "with concerns" although a decision had been delayed.

"I think it's a radical change that should not be taken without due diligence," she said, urging the board to take a measured, scientific approach.

Former board member Bill Tatum raised the issue of school safety, praising the policies and procedures already in place but encouraging further action.

"I do believe as you go through the upcoming budget process, consideration should be made to request expanded school resource officers to the elementary schools," he said.

Brad Marin, representing PAGE of Lee County, invited the board to the upcoming annual district spelling bee, set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the McLeod Auditorium of Lee County High School. Marin said 30 students would be vying for the title of champion speller of Lee County.

In other business, the board:

• Heard presentations from representatives of Deep River and Warren Williams schools. The Warren Williams presentation, focusing on the school's successes, featured remarks from parent Elizabeth Pilson. Pilson said her son, Ryan, is now in second grade at the school and has benefited from its smaller class sizes, behavioral therapy and attention to his special needs.

"Our lives are totally different now," she said. "Ryan is happy. There is life in his eyes; he can be a kid now."

Staff and students from the school earned smiles afterward during a song and dance performance.

Deep River's presentation centered on the school's recent "Big College" Field Day, which highlighted opportunities to attend college despite financial constraints. One of those opportunities was the Josh Britt Scholarship Fund.

• Recognized Quiz Bowl winners from Southern Lee High School, clean school of the month recipient Floyd L. Knight, and classroom webpage of the month recipient Joanna Perkins of Southern Lee High School.

• Approved a variety of fund-raiser requests from B.T. Bullock and Greenwood schools, Lee County and Southern Lee high schools, Lee Early College, and East and West Lee middle schools.

• Allowed several contributions and donations to local schools, ranging from $2,000 from the Lee Early College PTSO, to be used for two teacher laptops, to $20 from Luis Yarborough to Lee County Schools Student Services, to be used for student needs.

• Approved a list of overnight field trips for students at Lee County and Southern Lee high schools.

• Approved the 2012-13 audit contract with Anderson, Smith & Wike PLLC for a maximum fee of $32,750, plus reimbursement for reasonable, out-of-pocket expenses.

• Approved bids recommended by the Facilities and Technology Committee for the Deep River Elementary chiller replacement, amounting to $205,777; the Broadway Elementary chiller replacement, amounting to $198,968; the Greenwood Elementary heat exchanger replacement, amounting to $22,683.53; and boiler installation at J.R. Ingram Elementary, amounting to $18,893. The funding source for the chillers is 2012-13 lottery funds, and for the remainder of the projects is capital outlay, according to a report contained within the meeting agenda.  

• Approved 2013-14 Tramway Elementary and Lee Early College calendars.