UL kicks off facilities plan

BELMONT — The Union Local School Board on Thursday took some initial steps in making the comprehensive educational facilities plan a reality. The board heard from John Jefferis, project manager with PCS & Manage in Barnesville, and David Sneed, education planner and consultant, who made a presentation touching on the goals and procedures of the plan.

Sneed said they were currently in the information-gathering phase, which will take about two to three months. Next, the district will establish the preliminary goals and objectives of the district.

“You have a finite amount of money every year. … Your job is to spend money, efficiently,” Sneed said. “It’s comprehensive, we’re going to look at everything.”

Sneed said they will involve the community, staff and students in the plan. He proposed an executive committee to organize agendas for the various committee meetings. He also emphasized the importance of transparency and communication in securing community involvement and keeping the public informed.

He added that the most important item the committee would focus on is curriculum.

“The major component and the driving force behind what we’re going to do is the curriculum. We’re going to create a unique plan for the Union Local School District that addresses your needs,” he said. “I want to know about your programs of study, class schedules, all of those kind of things.”

Superintendent Ben Porter said education is changing and technology is continuing to impact how students learn. He said a plan would provide the district with a vision and long-term goals as they adapt.

“We’ve got a lot of arrows going in a lot of different directions, but need that circle,” Porter said. “That wheel to start spinning in one direction.”

Board member Dean Lancaster said it’s important to take the right approach for formulating a plan. “Let’s get an overall plan of where we want to be, and whatever idea comes in, go through that filter. That tells us, ‘is that a good idea,” Lancaste said. “We can place (new ideas) into a comprehensive approach.”

Sneed added that they also will research the industries and career paths currently in the area and what is likely to appear in the future, with the goal of providing career training for students.

Along with curriculum, the plan will encompass energy, operations and maintenance, health, safety, food services, transportation and other fields.

“We’ll plug all of that into this plan, which will put you ahead of probably 99 percent of everybody in the country,” Sneed said, adding that while every district has plans, few tie them all together.

Another major area will be the district’s facilities. Several consulting services will assess the facilities and establish an energy rating. Jefferis pointed out that many of the buildings are close to 20 years old and the district will be able to plan for repairs.

The board approved an energy assessment proposal with CMTA Engineering Consultants for $9,000, and PCS Company will provide building assessment services at an estimated cost of $8,280.