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Board accepts $987,600 bid for teacher training center


By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times-Leader

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Pitt County Schools is getting closer to finishing its professional development center after the Board of Education reviewed of bids for renovations the building’s interior. 

The system purchased a building on Charles Boulevard to house the Pitt County Schools Professional Development Center in 2017. However, the interior needs to be renovated so the facility can be effective for professional development, assistant superintendent of operations Matt Johnson told the board.

The floor plan consists of a large room capable of housing 100 people, two rooms capable of housing about 50 people each and several smaller conference rooms and staff offices.

“Basically, it will become the district’s professional development center, so as we’re rolling out training, we have a spot and we’re not looking around the county,” Johnson said. “This building will give the school system the ability to have its own location where we can schedule what we need on a daily basis without having to compete with everybody in the county. As we put on the professional development that the district wants to roll out or the state mandates, we have a space we can do it and call our own.”

The district has seen difficulty in the past with scheduling professional development, especially for large groups, due to competing for available space with other agencies, according to Johnson.

“It’s hard to find space for 50 to 100 people. There’s only a few venues in the county that can support that right now, and if you haven’t scheduled it far enough in advance, you won’t get that space,” he said. “(The renovation) is to create the training space that we need.”

For example, Pitt County Schools is working to expand Advancement Via Individual Determination or AVID to all of its schools. To expand the program to five schools, more than 50 teachers need to attend professional development.

The district received two bids for the interior of the building. Farrior & Sons of Farmville was the low bidder at $987,600. Muter Construction of Zebulon bid $291,000 higher. The district invited eight firms to bid as well as advertising the project across the state.

“The lack of bids is a sign of good economic development in Pitt County,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s a sign of anything other than that it’s a good time to be a building in eastern North Carolina.”

The district has more than $1.2 million in funding available for the project, including $284,000 from the system’s federal TIF (teacher incentive fund) grant; $250,000 from assigned fund balance; $200,000 in capital funding; and $475,000 in funds that were not spent on transportation and access control due to receiving roll over funding from the county.

“We are working with Farrior & Sons to add some value engineering options, so the likelihood of our $987,600 reducing a little bit based on value engineering is very great,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping to bring this down and get this a little lower.”

The bid is only for the renovation; it does not include technology or furniture needs. Technology funds should come from the TIF grant and are estimated to cost $110,000, according to Johnson.

“Furniture bids right now are a little over $340,000, and we are working with vendors to get that down,” he said.

This is the final phase of the project, and once it is completed, the building will be ready for use. The Division of Educator Effectiveness and Leadership, or DEEL, will be moving into the building by December 2019. It is the department that provides most of the professional development opportunities in the district, including the Key Beginning Teacher program and the Teacher Leadership Institute.

The bid is expected to be awarded to Farrior & Sons as part of the consent agenda at the board’s June 3 meeting.

In other news, the board:

• Discussed awarding auditing firm Carr, Riggs and Ingram a three-year contract for the district’s financial audit. The board recommending bidding out the financial auditing services after the end of the contract.

• Received the 2019-20 Academically/Intellectually Gifted Plan and the 2019-20 Career and Technical Education Local Plan. Both were added to the June 3 consent agenda.

• Discussed the possibility of creating an honors version of a personal finance course that is offered at all six traditional high schools.

• Received presentations on the Multi-Tiered System of Supports, AVID and Career and College Promise and Advanced Placement courses.

• Asked for district staff to look into the current administrative practice of assigning marshals for graduation exercises. The board will look into options at a future workshop meeting.

The Times-Leader serves southern Pitt County including Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.