County to discuss funding for school projects

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will consider several funding requests from Newton-Conover City Schools and Hickory Public Schools when it meets Monday in Newton.

Newton-Conover City Schools has requested $250,000 to replace six HVAC units at Shuford Elementary School. NCCS deemed the HVAC replacements as its top funding priority for fiscal year 2012-13 and is requesting that commissioners commit to funding so the replacements can be made this summer.

The HVAC units were installed when Shuford Elementary was built in the mid-1970s, and the units are in poor shape, according to information provided by the county. NCCS says the replacements need to be made during the summer while school is not in session, which only provides crews six weeks to complete the work, according to the state’s new school calendar.

In order to complete work prior to fall of 2012, the equipment needs to be purchased and ready for installation as soon as school ends for the summer. Thus, the school system is seeking a letter of intent for the funds so it can plan for construction.

The county commission’s finance and personnel subcommittee recommends giving priority to the HVAC replacements at Shuford Elementary School and issuing a letter of intent for the project, according to county information.

The board will also consider a request from Hickory Public Schools (HPS) to transfer funds to repair a large sink hole near Hickory High School’s campus.

HPS wants to transfer $40,926 previously set aside for wheelchair ramp replacements at school mobile units to a fund to repair a large sink hole near the Hickory High School baseball field. The school system obtained three bids on repairs to provide a short-term solution and enable the use of the baseball field this spring. However, a long-term solution will involve fixing a storm water pipe that has eroded and will eventually fall in other areas.

HPS has amended its capital request for next year to make fixing the storm water pipe its top priority, at a projected cost of $100,000. Staff recommends the board establish a new Hickory High School Sink Hole Repairs project and transfer $25,000 from the Mobile Units Ramp Replacement project so emergency repairs can be made this year.

The current year budget included funds to replace wheelchair ramps at mobile units that are no longer needed because the school system received a private donation to replace the ramps.

On Monday, the board is also scheduled to:

• consider appropriating $10,000 from a 2011 Government Innovation Grant Award (GIGA), to purchase mobile devices and software tools to promote the county’s online presence.

• present a Certificate of Commendation to St. Stephens High swimmer Sava Turcanu and Newton-Conover High School wrestler Franklin Wepner for recent sports achievements.