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News from the Board -- February 26, 2019
The Onslow County Board of Education held a special meeting on Feb. 26, 2019. The meeting’s agenda included the selection and election of the new OCS superintendent, a construction update on new elementary schools, and future budget planning.
Shortly after calling the meeting to order, Board members went into closed session. When they returned, they unanimously accepted the Board’s nomination of Dr. Barry Collins as the new superintendent of Onslow County Schools.
Dr. Collins is a graduate of White Oak High School and has been associated with OCS as a student, parent or employee for the past 42 years. Dr. Collins started his career in Onslow County as a teacher at Northwoods Park Middle School and most recently held the position of Associate Superintendent of Human Resources.
After the announcement of the new superintendent, the Board heard from Capital Projects Administrator Margaret Mosca and Architect Randy Baker regarding the proposed plans for the new elementary schools in the Stump Sound and Catherine Lake areas of the county.
For the Board, Ms. Mosca reviewed the project timelines, summarized the Architect Responsibilities for the building of the new elementary schools and updated them on land acquisitions for the projects. She said that the schools will be built based on a prototype design approved by the Board in the summer of 2018. Basing the schools on a prototype, she said, will allow the schools to be built faster and more efficiently.
In her presentation of the land acquisition agreements, she said that the Board was officially deeded 100 acres of land in the Stump Sound area in December 2018 after purchasing it for $530,000, and that the Board was given a donation of 30 acres in the Catherine Lake area in February of 2019.
Regarding architectural contractual agreements, Ms. Mosca told the Board that the architect would be required to visit the sites twice per week, while mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineers would be required to make site visits once a month. Reporting requirements in the contract would require weekly construction updates from the Clerk of Work, who the architect will hire, monthly updates from the architect and engineers, including schedule and budget changes, and quarterly updates to the Board or as requested.
Following Ms. Mosca’s presentation, the Board heard from architect Randy Baker. His update for the Board included the new schools’ building code requirements that will differ from Richlands Elementary School, which was recently built using the same prototype plan. Some of the changes included updates to the buildings that would increase the seismic and wind loads of the buildings due to their terrain and the potential use of them as shelters. He also discussed the projected traffic and parking needs of the schools, saying that his team always installs a minimum of 100 spaces for projects like this and will work with NCDOT to determine the road projects that will be necessary to make the school areas safe and efficient. Addressing previous concerns of the Board regarding the schools’ core capacity, Mr. Baker said that using a rotating lunch schedule, the core capacity of the new cafeterias will be 910 students.
Mr. Baker concluded with updated cost estimates and timelines for the project. He said that the estimated cost of the Catherine Lake school is $19,401,299, while the estimate for the Stump Sound school is slightly higher at $20,026,049 due to the site needing more improvements. The timeline Mr. Baker presented for the projects estimated a completion date of May 2021, contingent on funding and approvals.
Next on the agenda was a continuation of the ongoing discussion about future budget planning. Board Chair Pam Thomas started by reflecting on the Board’s last meeting with the Onslow County Board of Commissioners, saying that it was a good meeting and that the commissioners had formed a three-member team that would serve on a committee for school funding policy and planning and that the BOE was to do the same. These teams are meant to work on funding policy options and serve as liaisons between the two Boards. Ms. Thomas appointed Board members Earl Taylor, Ken Reddic and Bob Williams to serve on the committee and clarified that this committee will be subject to all open-meeting laws.
Board members discussed that the committee’s focus should be on the capital improvement plan and getting caught up on deferred maintenance projects, while also looking into a funding formula that would provide greater funding than the required state minimum.