Sampson County Schools officials are ready to dispatch a facility survey which includes construction needs for local high schools.
Lou Nelon, executive director of Auxiliary Services, presented a five-year facility needs survey to the board, which will be sent to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Two of the district’s high schools, Lakewood and Hobbton, were identified as needing new facilities to be built, when the time comes.
After information was collected for the survey, Nelon added information about Hobbton and labeled it a “zero-to-five year project,” and said it would be the priority on the list.
“We also added Lakewood High School as six to 10 years,” Nelon said.
The projected costs for each school was calculated using a formula from a DPI worksheet. Estimates for a new Hobbton facility is $28.35 million and $25.84 million for Lakewood. If built, the new facilities will replace obsolete facilities and will probably eliminate mobile teaching units. Hobbton has seven mobile classrooms and Lakewood has 11.
The document, which is close to 100 pages, includes detailed information for all district schools and suggested renovations. Nelon said the process began five years ago, which included a lot of calls to DPI to work with a new computer program. He also mentioned another 10-year survey, which didn’t focus on facility needs or rapid growth.
“That’s really not the issue for us here in Sampson County,” Nelon said. “The issue for us in Sampson County is the age of our facilities.”
Nelon said there’s a lot of latitude when it comes to the survey since it will become a consolidated report for legislators to review.
“But not a specific request which will impact Sampson County, Cumberland County or any other county specifically,” Nelon said. “While we can put anything we want to in there, they are trying to shy away from things that are considered regular maintenance for existing facilities.”
Most of the data which includes the size of each school and capacity needs, was submitted by principals and maintenance officials. Nelon said the principals did a good job submitting the information in a timely fashion.
The other mentioned needs included a $684,00 field house at Midway High School and a $193,000 soccer field at Union High School. For those exterior projects, Nelon said they’ve already communicated with engineers or architects.
“We’ve got that far down the road about considering that,” Nelon said.
“Although we didn’t continue that project last year, we’ve initiated it and we already put a lot of time into that,” he said about the soccer field. “It’s something that can be picked back up, relatively easy.”
After Nelon’s presentation, the majority of the board approved the survey. Board member Glenn Tart voted against it. During the meeting he questioned the district’s need to purchase four chillers at Salemburg Elementary School, Clement Elementary School, Plainview Elementary and Hobbton Elementary. Each unit cost more than $180,000.
Tart also asked if security needs were being addressed at each school for the survey. Nelon said the district spent close to $100,000 in a two-year time span on security matters.
“We put money to that every year and we’re going to continue to do that,” Nelon said.
The facility needs survey will be sent to Sampson County Commissioners for review in January. According to district officials, looking over the document does not constitute an endorsement or commitment to provide funding for any needs.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.