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Brunswick school board hears facilities master plan suggestions

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By Brian Slattery

BOLIVIA—School board members and school staff have received an overview of the system’s facilities master plan survey.

A consulting group has been collecting feedback for the past six months. They will present the board with a cost estimate for recommended projects
Feb. 19.

On Tuesday, consulting firm KBR Building Group made recommendations based on interviews with 359 Brunswick County students, parents, administrators and elected officials.

KBR’s Travis Twiford said at the top of the list is more career and technology education (CTE) programs, either in all the high schools or at one location.

“People feel the school system has drifted away from CTE and gone toward college preparatory classes. They want construction and mechanical trades,” Twiford said.

Twiford also recommended forming a CTE advisory committee using county business and industry leaders to review trade skills to be taught in classrooms.

Consultants recommended replacing Lincoln and Union elementary schools.

“They are at the end of their useful lifecycle,” Twiford said.

Other schools were recommended for upgrades, with Shallotte Middle School and Southport Elementary on the top of the list.

Overcrowding was another big issue.

Consultants said surveys showed residents feel if there are trailers used at a school, they want permanent structures to replace portable units.

Several of the secondary requests involved assessing facilities and materials the school system is using: Is instruction space used efficiently? Are athletic facilities and fields meeting student needs? Is there a plan to maintain and upgrade computer hardware and software regularly?

“Some of these programs, we have,” board member John Thompson said. “Add to your recommendations we need more public relations.”

Thompson added that site evaluations are a worthwhile idea, but the school board and staff already know some schools have already maxed out the space available. They would never be able to expand at the current location.

“We need evaluations sooner than later. We do not need to invest in property if we can’t expand on it or add to it,” Thompson said. “We need to look for places we can grow.”

Vice-chairman Bud Thorsen asked if the public said how they should pay for the recommendations.

Twiford said going to the public to gather information built support for the school system’s facilities management process, which will help sway opinion when it is time to pay for new or upgraded facilities.

“This gives you documentation of support to do these projects,” Twiford said. “Statistically, 359 of 100,00 residents is a pretty broad sample.”

The next workshop to discuss facility needs and potential cost estimates is
1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19.

 

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.