Forest City Courier Sept 7, 2005

Forest City Daily Courier: School board OKs creek project

 

By PAM BUNCH Daily Courier Staff Writer

FOREST CITY -- The Rutherford County Board of Education began its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday night by observing a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Following the moment of silence, 4th grade students from Rutherfordton Elementary School did a program of readings and patriotic music entitled 'We the People.'

Members then heard a presentation on the Ecosystem Enhancement Program from Linwood Crawford, assistant superintendent of Auxiliary Services, and Deborah Daniel, project manager for the Western District.

Daniel proposed two projects dealing with the restoration of Holland's Creek and stormwater best management practices on the campus of R-S Central High School.

The parcels involved are in the area south of baseball field on Westbrook Drive.

Daniel said the areas to be restored were identified by the Cathey's Creek Technical Advisory Committee which helped develop the management plan for Cathey's Creek watershed in Rutherford County.

In order to carry out the projects the Board will have to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement between the Rutherford Board of Education and North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program.

The Board would have to convey, at no cost to the NCEEP, a 30-foot easement extending horizontally from the top of the restored stream bank, and an easement area to accommodate the stormwater best management practices.

The board would also have to agree not to develop or cut vegetation in the buffer area.

In return, NCEEP will pay 100 percent of the cost of the projects, approximately $750,000, to include all legal fees, surveying, recording, design, construction and monitoring. The monitoring will continue for five years, after which time the NCEEP will provide training to the grounds crew to continue proper maintenance of the projects.

The completed project could also include an outdoor classroom with three distinct ecosystems represented.

Following Daniel's presentation, the board discussed the proposed projects.

"It sounds like a win-win situation to me, for the community and the school system," said Clarence Campbell.

"It would be a really nice centerpiece for the community because you'll be able to see it from the road," Daniel said.

"It's an excellent opportunity for us to be responsible landowners as well," said chairman John Mark Bennett.

The motion was made and to look favorably on this project and to begin the process of putting it into action. The motion was approved unanimously.

The board also considered and approved an increase in fees for activity bus use in order to compensate for rising gas prices. The charge per mile driven was increased from 85 cents to $1. The board also approved an increase in the cleaning fee from $10 to $35, and an increase in the processing fee from $3.50 to $5.

Terry Haas, Finance Director, also requested and received approval on a resolution to use the two-thirds, bond for several projects that hadn't been previously provided for. The $176,324 needed for the projects would come from the Capital Outlay Fund. The projects include gym floor replacement at Chase High School, intercom system replacements at Rutherfordton Elementary and Cliffside Elementary, phone system replacement at Cliffside and work on East High School's heating and air conditioning system.

Haas said there would be $70,000 remaining in the fund after these projects are completed.

The board also approved a request for additional funding of $12,500 for the Mount Vernon-Ruth water project, and approved public auction of two vehicles turned over to Rutherford County Schools by the police department for disposal.

In other business, the board discussed the local advisory council policy. A first revised reading of the purpose, function and duties of the council was presented by Linwood Crawford for the board's consideration.

The purpose of the advisory council is to serve in an advisory capacity to the board on matters affecting each school.

Dr. Anna Renfro, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and Dr. Renn Dominguez, principal at REaCH, gave an update on the new high school.

"The students are thrilled to be at school every day," said Dominguez.

She said the students have already turned in numerous projects of extraordinary quality. There are already six students that tested into a college level psychology course, and are doing well.

Renfro presented school improvement plan executive summaries and waiver requests, which were favorably accepted by the board.

"We're becoming more and more a school system, and not just a system of schools," said Dr. Bennett.

The board recognized and presented an award to Steven Helton of Forrest Hunt Elementary School as Principal of the Year for 2005.

Pat Edwards, 5th Grade Teacher at Rutherfordton Elementary did a curriculum focus on her students' study of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

Bennett also recognized Mel Bunch who had requested the opportunity to make a statement to the Board.

Bunch, parent of a Rutherfordton Elementary School student and a member of the PTO, referred to a quote Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford, made regarding the N.C. Lottery in an article in The Daily Courier on Sept. 1.

In that article, Dalton cited a state report that projects an estimated $800,000 a year will come to Rutherford County Schools' for capital projects from the lottery. Dalton said this means that, for example, construction of Rutherfordton Elementary could start as soon as the land is purchased.

In his statement to the Board, Bunch said, "Realizing there are only so many sites in the Rutherfordton Elementary School area that are suitable, and realizing that this Board has the power of Eminent Domain, we were wondering what the deadline might be for purchasing the land for Rutherfordton Elementary. And, if there is not a deadline, we would strongly encourage to set a deadline."

The Board thanked him for his comments.

Following the two-hour meeting, the Board went into closed session to discuss real estate issues and a student appeal.

Contact Bunch via e-mail at pbunch@blueridge.net