Schools Urged To Put Academics Before Facilities

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 12, 2011

By Mike Barnhardt
Enterprise Record

Davie County Schools need a long-term academic plan. Then the board of education should take a look at facilities.
That’s the message a few county commissioners and some residents are putting out as the school board is selecting firms to bid on renovations at Davie High School and to help form that facilities plan.
Jay Mintz of Advance, speaking at last month’s county commission meeting, said the United States is falling behind in education compared to other industrialized nations. “The United States is in the bottom third, but spends more money per student. We’re not doing too well and we’re spending too much money.”
Compared to other states, North Carolina is in the bottom 20 percent in education, Mintz said. Davie students score at about average in the state. “It’s a terrible situation we’re in in this county in education.”
Mintz said he met with Dr. Darrin Hartness, Davie Schools superintendent, and said it’s time to do better in Davie County. “There are wonderful opportunities out there. Send a message to the board of education to back off on the facilities plan. Those plans are out of synch. Don’t fund failure,” Mintz said.
Randy McDaniel agreed, and pointed out that the studies the board of education is considering include a firm that employs Dr. Bill Steed, former superintendent and interim superintendent in Davie County. The county should not “pre-approve” any of these studies, he said.
“This board should make sure that any monies will be used with respected, valid and unbiased data.” McDaniel suggested the study be modeled after a recent one in Iredell County – headed by local residents.
The school system needs an updated academic plan, a charter high school proposal must be considered, advanced classes and the early college high school must be offered, and plans for renovating and expanding the current high school campus must be final, McDaniel said.
James Kowles of Farmington, along with commissioners Carl Humphrey, chair Mark Jones and Robert Wisecarver, all expressed concerns about the schools’ fund balance in excess of $4 million.
“It gives me great pain this fund at the schools is $4.95 million,” Humphrey said. “I don’t know how we can justify that.”
Humphrey said he is also bothered by Steed’s involvement in the bids for facility plans. “That is a little bit out of place. We know his stance. Bias before the study bothers me …