Draft

JOINT MEETING BETWEEN

THE ALEXANDER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS &

THE ALEXANDER COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

Thursday, October 25, 2001

PRESENT: David S. Odom, Chairman
BOCC: Joel C. Harbinson, Vice-Chairman
William L. Hammer
W. Darrell Robertson
John F. Watts
STAFF: Rick French, County Manager
Jamie Millsaps, Clerk to the Board
David Icenhour, Public Information Director
BOE: Brent Fox, Chairman
Dale Clary, Vice-Chairman
Dr. Josephine Foster
Gary Lail
Derek Latham
Jim Lowe
Craig Mayberry
STAFF: Jack Hoke, Superintendent
Sharon Mehaffey, Finance Officer
Dr. Barry Redmond,  Associate Superintendent (as of November 10, 2001)
Rebecca Teague, Public Affairs Director
Debra Watts, Administrative Assistant
MEDIA: 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.

OPENING COMMENTS

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 Commissioners.

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 meeting.

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 ACHS.

Commissioner Watts asked if the ACHS project was on budget. Mr. Hoke replied that the project was on budget.

Central Park

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 Central Park.

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 rates.

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 County’s 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 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 county’s 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, 2001.

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.

Central Office

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:

          Multipurpose 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 posted.

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 wasn’t 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 system."

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 lowered.

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.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Mr. Hoke introduced Dr. Barry Redmond who will begin as the Alexander County Schools Associate Superintendent on November 10, 2001.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:10 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

                                                                        

Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board