School renovation concerns addressed

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

School renovations continued to be a topic of concern at a September meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors concerning Bacon District and Phenix Elementary Schools.

“As a result of an agenda item requesting borrowing funds, I made a motion to not commit to any borrowing until we knew what we needed at Bacon,” said Wylliesburg/ Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni. “This was the same discussion we had, had in July. Yet we still had no input from Superintendent and School Board about what additional money would be needed for any major items needed at Bacon.”

Previously, Superintendent of Charlotte County Schools Dr. Nancy Leonard said “…both schools are getting a gym and Phenix is getting eight classrooms with handicap

accessible bathrooms in each room. The rest of the details are being ironed out…”

Pierantoni said she requested to have roundtable workshops with the school board and a motion was previously made and passed to ask the School Board to schedule workshops with the Supervisors every 3-4 months.

Pierantoni said she was previously told she would have to attend the school board meeting to learn of any additional plans with the schools.

She said at a previously attended school board meeting, there was no discussion about the long-term plans or mention of meeting with the Supervisors.

“There was however, a slide projection shown showing the $3.211 million project now included less classrooms at Phenix and the gym at Bacon had been moved 60 feet from the building …” said Pierantoni.

She also said there are no handicapped bathrooms at Bacon.

At a Sept. 5 special called meeting of the School Board, Bacon/Saxe District School Board Member JonPaul Berkley said “that was all new to us … we’ve sold it to the Board of Supervisors as eight classrooms, that’s all we’d ever seen is eight classrooms. It was a big shock to walk-in and here we are four classrooms instead of eight classrooms.”

“I guess my communication process broke down …” said Jamerson Lewis Constructions’ CEO Phillip Jamerson during the meeting at that time.

He said the engineering and mechanical does not change and the plans can go back and the pre-engineer build for both schools has been ordered and will be delivered soon.

Pierantoni said at that point, all she could do was hope for a discussion with the School Board as voted.

“I followed up with (Supervisor) Chairman (Gary) Walker and other Supervisors that evening to give them an update of the meeting,” she said.

Pierantoni asked if Walker had sent a request to meet to the School Board Chair or Superintendent, which she obtained a copy of from the School Board Clerk.

According to Pierantoni, a copy of the email read relayed her request to meet with the School Board regularly, maybe every 3-4 months.

She also said the email said “…I’m not sure how many projects you all can manage at one time and would prefer to want (wait) until next year to take on any new spending/projects, as we are in deficit spending now and really need to see where we really stand before committing to more.”

She addressed fellow board members and said they were elected to serve the people and have rules to do so.

“I ask you to ponder that role carefully … most importantly, at this point, I ask each of you to join me in reaching out to the individual members of the School Board and ask them to open up dialogue with us,” said Pierantoni.

During the September Board of Supervisors meeting, Leonard said the priority of the school board is to take care of its employees.

“They endure some very significant hardship …” she said.

Additionally, Leonard said the school buildings are old and there are things they would like to be able to pay for and assist out of their own budget.

“For example, when there are smaller issues that we want to address, such as … wanting to move our office at Bacon District to the front of the building to increase security, there are things we can do in-house to do that and we will pay for that out of our budget,” she said.

Leonard also mentioned installing a handicap accessible lift at Bacon.

She said the school system intends to move forward with items that can be done in-house to improve the schools.

“I think it’s important to realize that there are parts in the $3.2 million that we have as a base that we appreciate and will move forward the capital improvements at Bacon and Phenix,” said Leonard. “That does not mean that we will not be taking money out of our budget that we currently have to continue to move our schools forward in capital improvement projects.”