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News from the Board -- December 3, 2019


The Onslow County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 3 at Blue Creek Elementary School. The meeting’s agenda items included the election of the Board chairperson and vice chairperson, a presentation focusing on Early Childhood Initiatives, a construction update on the new school being built in the southern part of the county, the consideration of an annexation request for the new school by the town of Holly Ridge, and the consideration of a bid for the new school being built in the western central part of the county.  
First on the agenda was selecting a chair and vice chair for the Board. Board members voted using a ballot system and re-elected Pam Thomas as board chair and Paul Wiggins as vice chair.  

Following a Good News Spotlight presentation full of recognitions for staff and students, OCS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Beth Folger and OCS Director of Early Childhood Initiatives Luisa Davis presented to the Board information regarding preschool in Onslow County.  

Ms. Davis shared with the Board that the OCS Early Childhood Initiatives Department has a vision to become the model of excellence for Head Start programs in North Carolina. Their mission is to ensure that preschool age children are “school ready” as they transition to kindergarten, thus enhancing the opportunity for a successful school career. Since the early 1990s, Ms. Davis shared that Title I initiatives, the Head Start program, and NC Pre-K funding have all come to OCS, allowing the district to currently serve 354 children through its blended preschool program. Through its blended program, OCS focuses on social and emotional development, approaches to learning, language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, and physical development and health.  

While the OCS preschool program has many successes, Ms. Davis also shared that the program faces a few challenges as it moves forward, including ensuring equitable access to the program across the county, raising community awareness of the program and its services, and sustaining the program as operating costs rise.  

Next, OCS Chief of Operations Steve Myers and architect Randy Baker shared with the Board an update on the construction of the new school being built in the southern part of the county. Mr. Baker said that Daniels & Daniels, the construction company in charge of the project, has started clearing the site and grading the land. He said that, as of the time of the meeting, the land was about 90 percent clear. Construction of the access road has started, and had an estimated finish date of December 11. Sewer line installation and storm drainage for the back of the property are projected to begin in a couple of weeks. Mr. Baker said that this time of year can make grading land challenging due to the amount of rain, but that the school is still on track to be finished in time to open in August 2021.  

Also in regard to the new southern elementary school, the Board took into consideration the possibility of requesting that the Town of Holly Ridge annex the school. At the BOE meeting in November, the Board directed staff to have conversation with the town and to report back with a recommendation. Mr. Myers presented to the Board the staff recommendation to work with the county on requesting the annexation of the new school by Holly Ridge.  

After voicing concerns regarding the permitting and inspecting challenges annexation would bring, the Board unanimously approved to ask the county to seek annexation that would take effect only after a certificate of occupancy for the building is issued.  

Finally, in an item added to the agenda at the start of the meeting, the Board discussed awarding the construction bid for the new elementary school being built in the western central part of the county. Mr. Meyers presented this item, telling the Board that, after discussion with county government employees, funding for the new school in the Catherine Lake area may be able to be obtained at the county’s February meeting with the Local Government Commission. The lowest responsible bidder, Daniels & Daniels, agreed to honor their initial bid until the February 4 meeting.

The Board unanimously agree to award the bid for the new elementary school in the west central part of the county to Daniels & Daniels in the amount of $26,151,000, contingent upon funding availability.