County schools begin work on five-year plan

Jul. 10, 2014 @ 04:43 PM

Union County Public Schools is getting ready to launch its next five-year plan, called the Community Construction Equity Plan (CCEP). 

Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Technology and Operations Mike Webb gave a presentation to the school board Tuesday explaining that the CCEP will plan for stability, future growth, existing needs and future facility needs through the year 2020. 

Webb said the planning takes a minimum of five months of time invested to come up with a plan. He remembered being on a blue-ribbon committee when he was working in the Sun Valley cluster that eventually became the Capital Facilities Plan. 

In going through the history, Webb explained that the CFP in 2010 identified about $110 million in needs, though they were not funded. 

The CFP came from the Capital Facilities Study which was conducted from 2008 until 2009 and identified about $283 million in requests from the schools and school system. Webb said that study went to the facilities committee and they whittled it down to the $110 million plan. 

“The CFP was never funded by the Board of County Commissioners,” Webb said. He said the finance officer at the time recommended to fund it and spread the funding across the years, however, it was not funded. 

Superintendent Mary Ellis noted that the plan involved the policy and the strategic planning committees, in addition to facilities, to determine the size of building or classes and policies involved as the process moves forward. 

Webb said creating the plan will involve the parents, teachers, students, public-private partnerships, UCPS and a working group of school board members and county commissioners.

“Involving as many stakeholders as we possibly can,” he said. 

The CCEP will cover repairs, renovations, additions, new schools, replacement schools, land acquisition and other needs that develop. 

Webb said it was important to talk to students and to ask middle school students what they missed or wanted in their elementary schools or high school students about their middle school experience, in addition to talking to students about their current experiences. 

With regard to funding, which would be spread over six years, the school board and county commission working groups would examine all available funding sources and options, develop a funding plan and make recommendations. 

“We need to look at public and private partnerships,” Webb said. 

Board Chairman Richard Yercheck asked if the school had developed outside partners. 

Webb said they may have some opportunities. 

“The partners are there,” he said. He noted that they needed to continue to foster and engage local businesses and community members. 

Ellis noted that they just had a partner donate $50,000 for a culinary program the school system is developing. 

Board member Sherry Hodges said the plan and process sounds great, but asked why it was not done before the reassignment, which was met with applause by people attending the meeting. She asked if it was a time issue and if the plan was going to take too much time. 

Board member and facilities chairman Kevin Stewart said the intent was to buy them a five-year window. He said that historically, everyone was invested in these plans, but that broke down. He noted that this process would be a perfect time to mend fences with the county commissioners. 

“This needs a lot of fence mending,” Vice Chair Marce Savage said.

She said she would like to see a lot of family and community involvement in the development of the CCEP, beyond just site-based teams.

“I would like to see total buy-in somehow,” she said. She added that they need the trust and they need the buy-in.

Webb said it was important for it to be a cross-functional team. 

“It needs to include as many people as possible,” he said. 

The school board voted unanimously to begin the process of developing the Community Construction Equity Plan.