by Cindy McMahon, Reynolds District Representative, Buncombe County School Board
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” – unless you’re in the Buncombe County Schools Maintenance Department! For these hard-working folks, summer is perhaps the busiest time.
At our May School Board meeting, we approved the Capital Outlay Budget and the projects for the Long Range Plan. Each year, this meeting marks both the end of a long and detailed planning process, and the beginning of the work ahead. Many of these repairs happen in the summer, when our classrooms are mostly empty and we don’t have to worry about interrupting instruction or putting our students, teachers, and staff at risk.
With 42 school campuses plus our central office facility, it is a huge responsibility (as well as expense) to make sure that all of our buildings stay safe, accessible, and in good repair. On an annual basis, each school submits prioritized capital needs. Representatives from the facilities and maintenance department then cost each one of the needs; the total is always far more than the funding available, which is why the prioritizing is so important.
The Capital Outlay committee, made up of principals from across the county as well as facilities, maintenance, and technology staff, then sifts through each request, balancing the level of need with the funding available and making sure that allocations are fair and equitable across our six districts. Projects that cannot be addressed in the current year may be referred to the Long Range Plan or considered again next year.
Our total amount requested this year was $45.5 million. We were able to fund $11.4 million of these requests using mostly funding from sales tax and sales tax reimbursements (the projects in the Long Range Plan are funded by Lottery and Article 39 funding, which is another source of sales tax revenue).
This summer, Reynolds Middle will see restroom renovations beginning in August, and Cane Creek will get a new gym floor. At the high school, the gym will get new roofing and the greenhouse will be renovated. Bell Elementary will get new tile flooring in the hallways, and Oakley will have padding installed on the gym walls.
In addition to some new flooring inside, Fairview Elementary is getting an outdoor brick walkway, a fitting welcome to the new accessible playground.
The Board of Education keeps a close eye on our capital expenditures and projects. My fellow School Board members and I are deeply grateful for all the hard work that goes into keeping our public schools in top shape so that our teachers and students can focus on what matters most: learning. Our schools will be ready to go again in August!
Questions for Cindy? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.