JOINT MEETING BETWEEN
THE ALEXANDER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS &
THE ALEXANDER COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Thursday, October 25, 2001
||David S. Odom, Chairman
||Joel C. Harbinson, Vice-Chairman
||William L. Hammer
||W. Darrell Robertson
||John F. Watts
||Rick French, County Manager
||Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
||David Icenhour, Public Information Director
||Brent Fox, Chairman
||Dale Clary, Vice-Chairman
||Dr. Josephine Foster
||Jack Hoke, Superintendent
||Sharon Mehaffey, Finance Officer
||Dr. Barry Redmond, Associate Superintendent (as of November 10,
||Rebecca Teague, Public Affairs Director
||Debra Watts, Administrative Assistant
||Gary Herman, The Taylorsville Times
A joint meeting was held between the Alexander County Board of
Commissioners and the Alexander County Board of Education on Thursday, October 25, 2001
which began at 6:00 PM with a meal and a tour of the additions and renovations to
Alexander Central High School. Following the tour, the joint meeting was held in the
Alexander Central Media Center.
Chairman David Odom conveyed his appreciation to the Board of
Education and staff for their hospitality and their willingness to work with the Board of
Commissioner John Watts conveyed his appreciation for the
opportunity to hold a joint meeting with the Board of Education and stated that he
anticipated moving forward with many projects in the future.
Brent Fox, Board of Education Chairman, welcomed all to the
meeting and also thanked the Board of Commissioners for the opportunity to hold the joint
STATUS OF NEW FACILITIES
Discussion was held regarding the status of the new facilities
in Alexander County which included the following:
Alexander Central High School
Jack Hoke, Alexander County Schools Superintendent, stated
that staff was meeting with the architect 2 times per month on the ACHS project. The gym
is scheduled for a final inspection on Monday, October 29, 2001. Mr. Hoke noted that staff
hoped to receive the Certificate of Occupancy for the gym at that time. If the Certificate
of Occupancy is received, the gym could be used within the next week. Mr. Hoke mentioned
that the ACHS project was 99 % complete. Staff plans to have an Open House in late
November or early December so that citizens may tour the new additions and renovations to
Commissioner Watts asked if the ACHS project was on budget. Mr.
Hoke replied that the project was on budget.
Mr. Hoke stated that the press box and the concession
stand at Central Park would soon be completed. The ACHS electrical and carpentry classes
are working on the press box and concession stand and the school maintenance crew is
handling the plumbing. Mr. Hoke stated that the structure would be in use by Spring 2002
and noted that a 6-7 girls softball team tournament had been scheduled for March at
Mr. Hoke also noted that the fence had been replaced around
Central Park and that some work was being done on the soccer fields. Mr. Hoke stated that
the tennis courts located next to the Central Office were being used quite often, both for
school and public use. The public may purchase tokens to use the tennis courts. The cost
of the tokens is used to pay for the electric bill. The Health/P.E. classes also walk over
from ACHS to use the tennis courts as well. Mr. Hoke noted that the tennis courts had been
very beneficial to the public as well as to students.
Ellendale Elementary School
Mr. Hoke stated that the new Ellendale Elementary School
was progressing well with Wilkie Construction. Mr. Hoke noted that 3 masonry crews from
Hickory were on site and had almost finished the brick work. The new school should be
completed in April 2002.
Refinancing of Current Debts
Commissioner Watts discussed the possibility of
refinancing the current debt of Alexander County due to the economy and lower interest
Rick French, County Manager, stated that the current Alexander
County debt totaled $12 million, over $7 million of which is school debt. Mr. French
stated that he had been in contact with the LGC in regard to refinancing and noted that
the LGC would be tracking interest rates for Alexander Countys debt and would keep
in touch with Mr. French with results. The current interest rate for the new Ellendale
Elementary School is 4.97 % and 5.05 % for ACHS. Both of these debts are paid through
restricted ½ cent sales tax monies.
UTILIZATION OF OLD FACILITIES
Discussion was held regarding utilization of old facilities in
Alexander County which included the following:
Wittenburg Elementary School
Commissioner Watts discussed the countys interest in
the old Wittenburg Elementary School and noted that it would be an ideal place for several
county departments including the Recreation Department since a ball field and gym were
already on site. It was noted that a portion of the building is currently being used as an
alternative school on Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 PM.
Commissioner Watts also discussed the hospital property and noted
that the Hospital Board had recently filed for bankruptcy. Commissioner Watts stated that
the county, as well as Frye Regional Medical Center, had some interest in the property.
Frye Regional Medical Center does not want to own the property or building, but wishes to
lease a portion of it. Commissioner Watts explained that there had been some discussion of
Alexander County purchasing the hospital property for some county offices and leasing a
portion of the property to Frye Regional Medical Center. Commissioner Watts stated that
the building would be an ideal place for the Health Department but stated that no final
decision had been made. Commissioner Watts noted that county staff would be meeting with
officials from Frye Regional Medical Center and an investment group on Friday, October 26,
Mr. Hoke suggested waiting for a proposal from Alexander County on
the old Wittenburg Elementary School. Mr. Hoke stated that when the proposal was received
from Alexander County, it would be taken to the full Board of Education for discussion.
Ellendale Elementary School / School Food Service
Commissioner Watts suggested moving the School Food
Service to the old Ellendale Elementary School when the new school is completed. Dale
Clary felt that the old Ellendale School should be used for a school function or be tied
in with the new school in some way.
Mr. Hoke noted that they wanted something to move into the
building as soon as students were transferred to the new Ellendale Elementary School.
Brent Fox stated that there were inadequate working
conditions for staff at the Central Office. Commissioner Watts discussed the possibility
of moving Central Office staff into the County Administration Building. Commissioner Watts
again noted the possible use of the hospital property, the old Wittenburg school, and the
Health Department building (if the county purchases the hospital property) and stated the
decision was very much "up in the air" at this time. Commissioner Watts felt
that no decision could be made on the Central Office/Administration Office issue until
county staff knew more about what direction was being taken with other buildings.
Commissioner Watts stated that county staff would notify the Board of Education and staff
of any action taken.
CURRENT PLANS/ TIMELINE FOR FACILITY NEEDS
Discussion was held regarding current plans and facility needs
which included the following:
Room at new CVCC/Alexander Center
Commissioner Watts discussed the multipurpose room in the
new CVCC / Alexander Center and noted that county staff would be meeting with Visacom next
week to discuss audio/visual equipment. Commissioner Watts also stated that a permanent
desk would be placed in the room which would seat up to 8 people. The room will hold up to
118 people in a meeting setting and 40-50 people in a classroom setting. Commissioner
Watts stated that a schedule could be developed for use of the room by the Board of
Commissioners, Board of Education, and CVCC, Town of Taylorsville, and local groups to
avoid overlapping of schedules.
Commissioner Watts stated that he hoped the new facility would
increase dual enrollment. Mr. Hoke noted that 81 students were currently dual enrolled.
School Facility Needs
Mr. Hoke noted that 10 additional classrooms were needed
at each middle school and that a gym was needed at Stony Point Elementary School.
Commissioner Watts asked about teacher allotments. Mr. Hoke
explained that the final student count at the 2nd month was 100 more than State
projection which means that the State may make a slight adjustment in regard to
instructional supplies and text books.
Mr. Hoke also noted that Hiddenite and Bethlehem Elementary
Schools were at their max capacity. Brent Fox stated that a 5th grade pod at
both East and West Middle Schools was a possibility.
Commissioner Darrell Robertson suggested either building new
schools in Hiddenite and Bethlehem or redistricting. The Board of Education felt that
building new schools would increase the school population even more. Commissioner
Robertson also suggested that Hiddenite Elementary students attend Stony Point Elementary
School and Bethlehem Elementary students attend Taylorsville Elementary School for a
while. Commissioner Watts suggested the possibility of building K-2 facilities in the
Hiddenite and Bethlehem districts rather than K-5 schools in those areas.
Mr. Hoke noted that he would keep the Board of Commissioners
JOINT EDUCATION COMPACT
Commissioner Watts discussed the sample Catawba County
Education Compact that was given to the Board of Education members for review and asked
for their opinions and comments. Commissioner Watts noted that the purpose of the Joint
Education Compact would be to hold both the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education
accountable for actions taken, would list expectations of both, and would identify what
funding levels would be each year.
Mr. Hoke stated that the Board had not discussed the Joint
Education Compact as a group but noted that there were some problems that had been
identified with the compact. Mr. Hoke suggested researching the size and funding levels of
other NC counties to better compare the Joint Education Compact for Alexander County.
Gary Lail stated that he felt the Joint Education Compact was too
stringent for both boards.
Dr. Josephine Foster stated that the State imposed enough
regulations on teachers and staff and felt that no more were needed.
Brent Fox stated that he wasnt comfortable with the idea
"getting rewarded" by the Board of Commissioners in terms of funding for
complying with certain items in the sample Joint Education Compact. Mr. Fox felt that each
board should simply strive to do the best that they could.
Dale Clary shared concerns that some people in the school system
would get the wrong impression and see the Joint Education Compact a "reward
Commissioner Robertson noted that the Joint Education Compact was
not meant to be taken as a "reward system" and stated that it was simply
promoting a good relationship between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education.
Commissioner Joel Harbinson agreed with the suggestion of
researching the size and funding levels of other counties. Commissioner Harbinson stated
that 50 out of 100 NC counties had a population of 45,000 or less, such as Alexander
County, and noted that research would decide whether the Joint Education Compact would be
feasible for Alexander County.
Chairman Odom suggested lowering class sizes in Alexander County
Schools and noted that studies have shown higher test scores where class sizes have been
Commissioner Watt emphasized that the document presented was not
meant to be restrictive or definitive but rather as a concept or outline if both boards
wished to discuss it further.
ANNUAL COUNTY RETREAT DATES
Commissioner Watts stated that county staff was looking at two
dates for the annual Alexander County Planning Retreat including January 18-19, 2001 and
February 1-2, 2001. The Retreat will be held at the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite.
Commissioner Watts noted that the Board of Education and staff would be scheduled for the
Saturday session as usual and asked that they check their calendars for these dates.
Mr. Hoke introduced Dr. Barry Redmond who will begin as the
Alexander County Schools Associate Superintendent on November 10, 2001.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at
Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board