New Bern, NC – The Board of Education is soliciting feedback from staff and community members regarding the needs of all school campuses and operational facilities. This information will help the Board of Education evaluate future goals and priorities related to each school prior to adopting a Long-Range Facility Master plan. West Craven High School kicked off the first meeting on February 25, 2020, Havelock High School is scheduled for February 27, 2020 and New Bern High School on March 5, 2020. Each meeting is open to all staff starting at 4:00 p.m. and all community members are welcome starting at 6:30 p.m. The purpose of these regional meetings is to share information collected during the long range facility needs assessment, discuss district priorities established by the Board of Education, collect input, and review the challenges and opportunities for improvement each school faces going forward.
All of the information gathered at each meeting will be presented to the Board of Education and will help drive decisions regarding the future use of all facilities. The aim of a Long-Range Facility Master Plan is to look ahead at how existing facilities can best be adapted to meet future educational program needs through capital repairs, upgrades, expansion, and improvements to the learning environments.
History and Context for Long Range Facility Planning
Craven County Schools facilities range in age from 69 years old which includes buildings on the campus of J. T. Barber Elementary to 13 years old (Creekside Elementary) which represents the last new building construction in Craven County Schools. Three schools have been constructed in this century, Havelock Elementary (2002), Bridgeton Elementary (2003) and Creekside Elementary (2007).
The average age of school facilities in Craven County Schools is 1971; nearly 50 years old. Although some of the school facilities are in adequate working condition, the age of the building makes them a challenge for the type of technology needed in our buildings to match the workforce development needs of students as well as the changing demands of a 21st century classroom. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of deferred maintenance in our buildings resulting from the average capital outlay expenditures over the last decade. That amount has averaged $825,000 annually over the last decade which ammortized per square foot is approximately $0.39. Or, to put it a different way, it is $35,870 per facility per year. This is not enough. Touring our facilities reveals buildings that have significant maintenance and upgrade needs as well as some facilities that, because of outdated HVAC, mechanical systems, electrical, and plumbing systems, are well past a point of urgency. In addition, we have some wall systems that are breaking down and cracking which present more urgent needs.
All of this information coupled with the declining enrollment the school system is seeing in some schools related to military relocation and homeschool transition is forcing the Board of Education to assess each facility with an eye towards effective instruction, efficient use, and workforce development needs.
In February 2019, Craven County Schools engaged with Smith Sinnett to conduct a Long Range Facility Needs Assessment and use that assessment to assist the Board of Education in making a Long Range Facility Master Plan. A copy of the Craven County Schools Long Range Facility Needs Assessment 2019 is located at: bit.ly/longrangeneedsassessment.
For historical reference, Craven County Schools last utilized the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to conduct a long range facility plan in 1990. Since that time, the school system has had assessments of current facilities which provided information about the current footprint of all facilities and deferred maintenance. However, the district has not had a plan that addressed the deferred maintenance, attendance planning, facility upgrade considerations and or the replacement of facilities. Since Hurricane Florence, it has become more urgent than ever that Craven County Schools create a plan to optimize current facilities, make decisions about which facilities to continue in use, which facilities to transition to new uses, and to assess against instructional programs and each building’s ability to provide instruction that meets the workforce needs of the community and region in the next decade.
Submitted by: Jennifer Wagner, Craven County Schools