Union County Public Schools officials will look to move on from redistricting woes this week as they return to discussions Friday, March 14, on completing millions of dollars worth of roof improvements across the district.
School facilities committee members are due to discuss bids for roof replacements for Indian Trail Elementary, Parkwood High and Forest Hill High schools, which are just three of a number of schools the system has identified as having roofs in need of repair. The system recently received $9.5 million from the Union County Board of Commissioners for roof needs identified in last summer’s school funding trial – a trial that resulted in the county being told to pay the school system $91 million for multiple infrastructure and operating needs.
The roof repairs come in response to concerns pointed out by parents and administrators across the county during the trial and preceded budget debates, including some complaints of classes having to be moved when it rains due to leaking roofs. Roof repairs are only part of a number of infrastructure needs officials have pointed out, which also include stadium repairs, handicap accessibility improvements and a number of issues at aging schools throughout the county.
These talks are a continuation of discussions that have been happening since last summer that were delayed by overcrowding concerns, which the school board tried to bring to an end with its vote last week to approve redistricting for the 2014-15 school year. Some parents have vowed to fight the board’s decision. Parents also will have a chance to appeal the redistricting of their student if their student was not included in the expanded grandfathering that was approved along with the redistricting plan that will shift more than 3,300 students throughout the county. Rising fifth-, eighth-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders have the option to stay at their current school if the parent or student provides transportation. UCPS will not provide any transportation for students choosing to stay at their current school.
School officials did not respond to Union County Weekly by press deadline on Wednesday, March 12, for comment.
The UCPS Board of Education accepted more than $9 million for needed roof repairs from the Union County Board of Commissioners during its March 4 meeting, though it is not clear when, or if, the school board will see the $91 million jury award. The county has appealed the decision, saying it would be too costly to county coffers and could result in a disruption of other county services – or a tax increase.
The $9 million – or $91 million – will only make a small dent in the amount of need, school officials have said. A report in 2008 identified $283 million in school infrastructure needs that district officials say has not been touched and does not include new schools built since then.
“The dollar amount specified (for the roof repairs) are good faith estimates that may need to be revised,” Facilities Committee Chairman Kevin Stewart said at the March 4 meeting regarding roofing needs.
The schools that will see repairs from the $9.5 million are: Benton Heights Elementary, $505,395; East Union Middle, $326,970; Forest Hills High, $406,485; Hemby Bridge Elementary, $307,350; Indian Trail Elementary, $355,065; Marshville Elementary, $425,685; Monroe High, $281,805; Monroe Middle, $157,410; New Salem Elementary, $312,150; Parkwood High, $439,350; Parkwood Middle, $1,477,380; Piedmont High, $114,555; Piedmont Middle, $34,950; South Providence School, $487,140; Sun Valley High, $538,590; Sun Valley Middle, $1,091,400; Unionville Elementary, $13,680; Walter Bickett Education Center, $622,440; Weddington Elementary and Middle, $349,665; Wesley Chapel Elementary, $39,300; Western Union Elementary, $292,800; and Wingate Elementary, $670,125, according to a report provided by UCPS.
The funds also include $204,315 in repairs for office and warehouse space for UCPS. The estimated costs for all roof improvements totals $9,454,005.
The facilities meeting where roofing bids will be discussed will take place at 8:30 a.m. in room 203 of the UCPS Professional Development Center, 721 Brewer Drive in Monroe, and also will include presentations on the firefighting academy and Forest Hills High School stadium renovations, Walter Bickett Education Center bathroom renovation bids and budget