Granville Commissioners Call Special Meeting on JTOH Lease Appeal

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-Information courtesy Debra A. Weary, Clerk to the Board, Granville County

Notice of Special Meeting

All interested persons please take notice that the Granville County Board of Commissioners will hold a Special Meeting on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at 4 p.m. at the Granville Expo and Convention Center located at 4185 Highway 15 South, Oxford.

The purpose of the Special Meeting is to continue the hearing on the appeal requested by Oxford Preparatory School pursuant to North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 115C-218.35.

Granville County BOE Continues Negotiation to Lease JTOH

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

At a special called work session held at West Oxford Elementary School on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, the Granville County Board of Education voted unanimously to express its concern regarding the suitability of the former Joe Toler-Oak Hill building for use by Oxford Preparatory charter school. In a motion passed unanimously by the Board, the Board cited, “serious reservations regarding the suitability of the facility for children without making significant upgrades and renovations”.

In the fall of 2019, Oxford Preparatory School (OPS) requested to lease the now vacant school property beginning in June of 2020. The district declined their offer as it intends to sell the property in order to eliminate the liability of owning the aged facility and recover much-needed funding for other critical facility needs across the district. The poor condition of the facility was a major contributing factor in the Board’s original decision to close the school in January of 2019.

According to the district’s Master Facility Plan, which evaluates maintenance and capital improvement needs for all of its facilities, the campus had a five-year projection cost of $2.3+ million. At the time, the Board had been in the process of declaring it surplus property and subsequently offering it first to the County Commissioners as required by state law. The Board, therefore, responded to Oxford Prep and declined its request to lease the property for a future school year, because the Board intended to sell it as soon as possible.

Correspondence occurred between the two parties throughout November and December during which time the two parties debated the legal issues surrounding the lease request. In December, the Board did, however, provide OPS access to the building and allow their team of building inspectors to evaluate the condition of the facility.

Then, at the January 6, 2020, County Commissioners meeting, commissioners declined the first right of purchase of the school property and directed the School Board to enter negotiations with Oxford Prep to attempt to reach terms of a lease agreement that would be “practically and financially feasible.” The commissioners also permitted the Board to proceed with the sale of the property.

Following that directive, the Board then entered good faith negotiations and has held multiple meetings with OPS Executive Director Andrew Swanner and his attorney, David Hostetler of Durham. As of January 21, the parties had reached agreement on some terms, but significant areas of disagreement remain, including the necessity of certain immediate repairs and a fair rent for the building.

Throughout these discussions, Board of Education members have expressed concern about the ability of the JTOH building to house the number of students proposed by OPS. OPS has reported its intention to house three hundred or more students in the building, a student population far greater than the building has held in recent memory.

In the past 11 years, the school’s reported enrollment did not exceed 229 students, and at the time of its closing JTOH enrolled approximately 180 students. Even with those lower numbers, the school’s well could not always supply sufficient water to serve the school for a full school week, and the Board was forced to purchase and truck in additional water for students and staff. Other wells on the property have run dry. Board members and staff also expressed concerns about the ability of the septic system to serve that many students.

Third-party assessments show the school buildings are in need of roof replacements, major renovations to the heating system, as well as AC system upgrades. Without these critical repairs, replacements and upgrades, the district fears that the building might suffer from water damage and significant air quality concerns, which in turn could create potential safety concerns for those in the building. Mold had been detected in the school in 2018, and the district spent significant funds to remediate and address the cause of the contamination at that time. The private inspectors commissioned by Oxford Preparatory did not inspect the building’s roof or air handling/ventilation system.

Despite these serious reservations as expressed in its vote Tuesday evening, the Board of Education intends to continue its dialogue with Oxford Prep regarding the facility and what repairs would be necessary to bring it to a condition appropriate for housing such a large number of students and staff. The County Commissioners have indicated their intent to call a meeting on January 29 at 4 p.m. for an update on this matter.

In the meantime, the Board is in the process of listing the property with a commercial real estate agency. The 30-acre site and campus facilities are now officially for sale. The property has an appraised value of $450,000. Interested buyers may contact the Granville County School Board offices located at 101 Delacroix St., Oxford, NC (919) 693-4613 for additional details.

Oxford Prep. Hopes for Resolution to Outstanding JTOH Lease Request

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-Press Release, Oxford Preparatory School

Oxford Preparatory School has made three different offers to Granville County Public Schools in the past three weeks to lease the closed Joe Toler-Oak Hill building in order to accommodate Oxford Prep’s upcoming K – 4 expansion.

The Granville County Commissioners held a meeting on January 6, 2020, during which an appeal hearing was conducted on Oxford Prep’s request to lease the closed Joe Toler-Oak Hill building. The Granville County Commissioners determined that pursuant to NC General Statute § 115C-218.35 the building was “available” and directed the GCPS School Board to enter negotiations with Oxford Prep.

In the past two weeks, on two occasions representatives from Oxford Prep met with representatives from GCPS. After each meeting and upon reflecting on GCPS’s concerns, Oxford Prep modified the offer in an attempt to better address perceived impediments that had been discussed.

The Oxford Prep team, accompanied by GCPS representatives, completed an on-site inspection of JTOH. They were pleased to see the condition of the JTOH building. It was obvious that the maintenance staff from GCPS has taken a great deal of pride in and care of the building. In addition, an inspection by an outside firm was completed of the building for suitability, economic viability, and safety. Both inspections were done w/ GCPS personnel present. At no time were any safety concerns raised.

Oxford Prep is well aware of the deferred maintenance that has been suggested by GCPS. As a result of both inspections, Oxford Prep has a clear understanding of what facility improvements are needed and continues to believe the property is well-suited for the safe, short-term occupancy requested.

After the last negotiation meeting, Oxford Prep reworked its lease offer so that the lease agreement might be an economically and practically feasible one. The lease offer includes the following terms:

– $100,000 in total lease payments (including a $10,000 security deposit) to occupy the building from June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021 (equal to 22% of the appraised market value of the building)

– Take on 100% of GCPS’s upkeep costs once a lease agreement is executed until Oxford Prep vacates the building on May 31, 2021 (GCPS currently spends over $100,000 a year)

– Complete building repairs to include (drainage evaluation and remediation, septic and well repairs, boiler system repair, and repair sections of the roof as needed)

– Complete quarterly air quality testing and complete remediation as needed

The Oxford Prep leadership team and Board of Directors are optimistic that the Granville County Public School System will enter into the generous proposed lease terms, that serves the interests of GCPS, Oxford Preparatory School, and the citizens of Granville County.

For additional comment, please contact Andrew Swanner, executive director of Oxford Preparatory School at [email protected] or (919) 690-0360.

Annual State Inspection of GCPS Buses Complete

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

The State of NC recently completed its annual inspection of all Granville County Public Schools (GCPS) buses, including an audit of the Transportation Department’s inventory, control processes and safety records.

In conducting the inspection, officials assign point values to violations or defects, so the lower the score, the better the overall results. For the second year in a row, GCPS received an overall score better than the state average. This year’s score was a 36.4, with the state central region average being a 38.5.

After reviewing the final official report, Superintendent McLean offered her thoughts, saying, “I was very pleased to see us again do better than the state average score, but I was even more pleased to see that there were ZERO problems related to major safety violations with regard to brakes, tires, steering or fuel leaks. I am very proud of Mr. Harry Wilkins and his team in the Transportation Department. This is a job well done.”

In addition to the low inspection score, the report also highlighted the strengths of the department’s inventory control process. Of the approximately $90,000 of parts and supplies currently in the transportation shop’s inventory, the audit found a discrepancy of only $106.90, which was attributed to miscounts of low-cost items such as fasteners and brackets.

The Transportation Department is also given an annual Transportation Information Management System (TIMS) efficiency rating by the state each year using a separate process. This rating is based on how well the district plans its routes and maximizes the ridership, which in turn reduces fuel consumption and mileage on the buses. The higher the efficiency rating, the better the funding formula will be for a district.

This past year, GCPS had a rating of 94.5%, which exceeded the state’s indicator threshold of 90%. This resulted in the maximum funding calculations for the district and was a reflection of the hard work of TIMS Manager Cindy Fain and the Assistant Principals who manage routes and ridership.

Dr. McLean went on to say, “This report and the high marks for the department are also a reflection of the outstanding job done by our bus drivers each and every day. Our drivers continue to do an excellent job of taking good care of our children on our buses. They, more than anyone, know just how precious their cargo is.  They truly are our children’s guardian angels on the road. We thank the public for remembering this in their daily commute as well.”

Granville Board of Education to Meet for Work Session Jan. 21

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-Information courtesy Granville County Public Schools

NOTICE TO PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Granville County Board of Education will meet for a Work Session on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 2 p.m. at West Oxford Elementary School, 412 Ivey Day Rd., Oxford, North Carolina.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the items found on the agenda at https://go.boarddocs.com/nc/gcsd/Board.nsf/Public.

The board may also meet in Closed Session to discuss confidential matters and consult with its attorney in accordance with N.C. General Statutes 143.318.11 (a)(1),(a)(3), and (a)(6).

GCPS Accepting Choice School Applications for 2020-21 Academic Year

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-Information courtesy Granville County Public Schools

Granville County Public Schools is happy to announce that the Choice School Application is now available for the 2020-2021 school year.

If you would like to enroll your child in a choice school program, please complete the GCPS Choice School Application by March 20, 2020. The application window for Granville Early College closes on February 18, 2020.

The application can be found on the GCPS District website or on the individual school’s website.

Please contact the Choice Program Office for questions regarding choice programs at 919-693-6413.

 

Granville Early College High School Accepting Applications for 2020-21

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-Information courtesy Granville County Public Schools

Granville County Public Schools is happy to announce we are now accepting applications from all current 8th-grade students for Granville Early College High School for the 2020-2021 school year.

If you are interested in enrolling your 8th grader in Granville Early College, now is the time to complete your application!  We will be accepting applications through February 18, 2020.

You can find the online application by visiting the Granville Early College HS website or by clicking here.

GCPS Receives ‘Clean’ Financial Audit Report 

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

At their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, January 6, 2020, the Granville County Board of Education received the official financial audit for the 2018-2019 fiscal year from the firm of Anderson, Smith and Wike, PLLC.

Partner Dale Smith summarized the 72-page report to the Board, commenting, “these reports are the cleanest reports that a governmental entity can receive in an audit of its financial statement.” Board Chairman David Richardson responded to the audit results, stating, “The Board is pleased with the results of this year’s audit. In striving to be transparent and accountable for the funds entrusted to us, this process affirms our staff and procedures while showing the public our financial standing.”

Mr. Smith walked Board members through various highlights of the report, including an overview of the budget, as well as the status of fund balance, or the district’s savings or “rainy day” fund.

The total budget of governmental activities for the district during the 2018-2019 fiscal year was $90,991,833. Regarding fund balance, Mr. Smith explained, “The total fund balance on June 30, 2019, was $6,229,570, which as a percentage of total governmental expenditures represents 7.26%.”

Mr. Smith further explained the importance of the Board to continue monitoring the fund balance to ensure the district remained in sound financial standing. He noted that while there is no required threshold for the percentage of fund balance that the district should maintain, other governmental entities such as towns, cities and municipalities use 8% as a general target for their savings.

Mr. Smith concluded his presentation by stating, “Over the past three years, the district has not had any major compliance issues. The state puts a lot of restrictions on how the money is to be spent, so all of your directors and the finance department are responsible for ensuring the funds are spent in the proper manner, and they have done an excellent job in spending those funds the way they were supposed to be. It says a lot about the folks you have in charge that there are no findings with this audit. We audit over 50 districts across the state, and there is not anyone doing as great a job as Ms. Day and her team. Y’all have a top-notch finance department.”

The Board uses a third party independent auditing firm to review financial records as a measure of accountability and certification as required by state law. This helps ensure that the district remains a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

Superintendent McLean also commented on the findings, saying, “I am very proud to see the high quality work of our finance team and staff from across the district confirmed by this independent report. This is fundamental to our primary goal of educating students and I commend them for a job well done.”

Oxford Prep School Announces Homecoming Representatives

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-Press Release, Oxford Preparatory School

Oxford Preparatory School celebrated Homecoming on Friday, January 10, 2020. The newly selected 2019-2020 OPS Homecoming King and Queen, chosen from members of the senior class by their peers, is Ridge Huff and Sophia Metcalf.

Oxford Preparatory School celebrated Homecoming on Friday, January 10, 2020. The newly selected 2019-2020 OPS Homecoming King and Queen, chosen from members of the senior class by their peers, is Ridge Huff and Sophia Metcalf. (OPS photo)

Quincy Burreal, the 2018-2019 OPS Homecoming King, crowned the newly elected King and Queen. Quincy was joined by Ey’mania Alston, President of OPS Interact, Hailee Bissett, Interact Vice President and Avery Thomas, Interact Secretary.

The OPS Senior Homecoming Court representatives were Catherine Slack, daughter of Penny Slack; Ridge Huff, son of Sandy and Randall Huff; Sophia Metcalf, daughter of Mary and Ken Metcalf and Alexander Slack, son of Penny Slack and Bob Slack.

Catherine Slack is already a successful college student in the CCP program, an honors scholar and a key OPS leader on the cross-country trail and on the basketball court. With a consistently positive attitude, others often look to Catherine for her leadership and support.

She plans to attend Montreat College with a running scholarship so that she can pursue a career as a Physical Therapist.

Also an honors scholar, Ridge Huff has earned a large number of college credit hours while also being a standout athlete on the soccer field and on the basketball court. Ridge is a leader in academics, in athletics and in serving others through school and with his church. His peers look to Ridge to see the positive in every situation.

Ridge will be attending NC State and majoring in Biomedical Engineering and will pursue a career as a dentist.

Sophia Metcalf is an honors scholar who has already earned 24 college credit hours. She is a highly talented musician, a skilled artist and a nationally decorated equestrian. Sophia is the founder of the OPS Equestrian Club. As a leader, Sophia works to make certain that others feel valued and included.

She will be attending either NC State or Averett University to pursue a career in Biology.

OPS Senior Homecoming Court representatives Catherine Slack and Alexander Slack are pictured above. (OPS photo)

Alex Slack has also maintained status as an honors scholar while successfully earning college credits. He is an extremely skilled musician and a key contributor to the OPS strings with not only his talent but also the kind manner in which he urges others to try harder and to reach higher, along with the spark of humor he adds to each endeavor.

Alex will attend UNCG to major in Psychology and to pursue a career as a Therapist.

The 7th-grade homecoming court representatives were Emily Wilkinson, daughter of Nancy and Chance Wilkinson and Davis Faulkner, son of Marian and Starr Faulkner.

8th-grade representative Janari Johnson, daughter of Tasha Blackwell and Jerry Johnson was escorted by 8th-grade representative Jonathan Gouldman, son of Shannon Wilkerson.

9th-grade was represented by Reese Newton, daughter of Mary and Chad Newton. She was escorted by Zack Crosby, the son of Alwason and Robert Crosby.

10th-grade representatives were Zoe Holland, daughter of Tracy and Christopher Holland and Lucas Juntunen, son of Tammy and Jon Juntunen.

11th-grade representatives were Rachel Daniel, daughter of Cindy Woodard and the late Gerald Daniel and Bryce Garrett, son of Shelby and Todd Garrett.

Granville Board of Ed. to Discuss Joe Toler-Oak Hill Surplus Property

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

The Granville County Board of Education will meet for a Special Called Meeting on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 8:30 a.m. at the Central Office Building, 101 Delacroix Street, Oxford, North Carolina.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the Board’s surplus property on the site of the former Joe Toler-Oak Hill Elementary School.

The board may also meet in Closed Session to discuss confidential matters and consult with its attorney in accordance with N.C. General Statutes 143.318.11 (a)(1) and (a)(3).