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Will BOE vote on a bond without all the necessary information?

By Jenny Cooper
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2004

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Bond debate at BOE Meeting

It was obvious that Cadle, Ernest, and Deb were ready to vote on a bond plan tonight.

At the BOE meeting, there were some ordinary discussions, and presentations, and informative public comment..but I'll skip all that and get to the main event.

The Board of Education members (or at least some of them) were prepared to pass a school bond. The bond vote was only postponed because the figures on asbestos removal need clarification. Those of us in attendance were caught by surprise, because the item on the agenda led us to believe there would be a "discussion" of the presentation made by the architectural firm, not a vote. It was obvious that Cadle, Ernest, and Deb were ready to vote on a bond plan tonight.

Cadle and Ernest were assertive in using the figures (presented by the architectural firm at the last BOE meeting) to come up with the plan. Cadle was prepared to propose a bond plan very similar to the original plan: a new high school on Jack Bennett Road, new Siler City Elementary, various other school renovations, gyms, etc. There was discussion about the renovations of the old buildings at Horton Middle School with an estimated cost of 3 million dollars. Ernest suggested a new structure be built at Horton Middle School instead of the renovations of 5th and 6th grade halls. Others seemed to support the idea. Dr. Mabe suggested finding another use for the old buildings instead of demolition.

The debate was heated at times. Ronnie Collins told the BOE members that if the existing high schools need expensive upgrades with or without a new high school, than expansion of the high schools may not be as costly as constructing a new high school and then upgrading the existing high schools.(Because the schools will still need the improvements). Ronnie stated that he is interested in studying expansion and improvements of JM and NHS, and concluded in saying that he will not vote in favor of a new high school until the demographic study is complete.

When Ronnie asked Cadle what will be done about crowding in North Chatham and Harrison, It was either Cadle or Ernest who said a COPS loan could be used to build a middle or K-8 in North Chatham.

Zimmerman also voiced concern over the location of the new high school, and said he would like to know the results of the demographic study before supporting a new high school in NorthChatham.

Ernest insisted that if NHS is expanded, there will still be a need for a new high school. Ernest said if the study says the high school should be built between Siler City and Pittsboro, he will still support the North Chatham location. People then asked the board, "Why bother with a study then?"

Collins asked sarcastically, "Put one [high school] in the wrong place. Fix it next time?"

The next BOE meeting was changed to 1/26/04 at Northwood High School. Ronnie Collins requested the agenda clearly include the item, "Vote on Bond Issue".

This is only a short summary of the evening, Mary Lou Torbert and I got home after 11pm. Don't think for a minute that there was any "peace" in the room. Several in attendance were not happy, and made it known.

Again, I think it was Ronnie who told the board members he hopes there is a big crowd at the next board meeting.

I hope you all will attend. This will affect our kids and all communities.

The next School Board meeting is on Monday, 1/26/04 at Northwood High School

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Will BOE vote on a bond without all the necessary information?

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