Lincoln County Board of Education members continue to wrestle with potential solutions for addressing pending growth in the eastern part of the county.
That became clear at a board committee meeting Feb. 5. Opinions already were mixed among board members and county commissioners after a recent joint workshop with the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.
“We came out from that meeting and we were in five different directions,” Associate Superintendent Aaron Allen said. “The discussions tonight are to pare down what we want to explore.”
Several schools in the eastern side of the county have either reached or exceeded capacity. Possible solutions include building new schools, adding on to existing schools, purchasing additional land adjacent to existing schools for expansion, using more mobile units, moving boundary lines or doing nothing.
Tony Jenkins said he is not in favor of using mobile classrooms.
“It’s unsafe out there, to me,” he said. “It’s more secure being inside a brick-and-mortar building.”
Todd Wulfhorst said that he was struggling with the discussions in general, given that enrollment numbers in Lincoln County and nationally haven’t gone up in 10 years.
“We’re having this discussion based on (county planning director) Andrew Bryant coming up with some hotspot maps,” he said. “We’re not having it based on actual enrollment numbers. This is just a prediction.”
After discussion, board members agreed that the three preferable options were adding on to existing schools where feasible, shifting boundary lines, and land acquisitions or swaps.
The board also discussed the purchase of an additional 12 activity buses. Currently, the school district operates 24 activity buses, but half of those are 26 years old. Repair parts for several of the buses are obsolete and difficult to obtain. Four of the buses had to be permanently parked in January due to needed repair. The total cost for the 12 buses would be $160,000. The board is expected to vote on the purchase at its Tuesday, Feb. 12 meeting.
Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Department Director John Davis presented information on a potential partnership with Lincoln County Schools and other organizations throughout Lincoln County through the Get Healthy Lincoln program, which will provide health-conscious resources for the community and visitors. Some of the events would be held on school grounds.