In The Spotlight: Davie County Schools Part I: Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan

Executive Summary

I will treat the Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan as a serious, unbiased assessment.  I have read the Executive Summary but not the full 700 plus page Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan.  You may read the entire Executive Summary by following this link:


I hope the full Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan includes a copy of the contract between Little et al. and DCS.  We do not know the scope of the contract and therefore cannot assess whether the goals of the contract have been accomplished.

Let’s Be Truthful and Realistic

There are some counties in North Carolina that can build schools like my wife makes cookies:  that is, one right after another.  In these districts, school district staff makes a tentative decision a school is needed; plans are prepared; and the matter is referred to the Board of Education.  The Board of Education will typically approve the staff’s recommendation and the approved recommendation is sent to the Board of Commissioners for approval.  Instead of identifying these counties by name, permit me to describe the counties in one sentence.  These counties, which have cookie cutter schools, have a very substantial retail, industrial, and office building tax base.  Davie County has, by comparison, a small retail, industrial, and office building tax base.  Davie County has many residences that generate property taxes which are insufficient to pay for the services provided by the county.  In Davie County, building a new school is a very big deal.

Little’s Cost Estimates

The table that follows shows the cost of the complete menu of choices provided by Little.  I can safely say that each choice will be unacceptable for financial reasons.  Additionally, Davie County voters will not permit the building of a new high school while, at the same time, ignoring our elementary and middle schools.

It is my recommendation that each principal submit a list of renovations and repairs in order of priority.  Lists should also be submitted by the building and maintenance department and the curriculum staff.  These lists should be submitted to the superintendent.  He should compare the preceding lists with the Little list.  The superintendent should prepare his list based on the recommendations described above and submit a final list to the Board of Education (BOE).  The BOE and superintendent should consult with the Board of Commissioners, county staff, and Little to prepare a final list of expansion, renovation, and repair which will involve a financial commitment that benefits all schools and will be supported by voters in a bond referendum.  In my judgment, a bond offering in the amount of $25 to $30 million should seriously be considered by voters if supported by the BOE and Board of Commissioners, especially since $6 million has already been identified for high school renovation and repair.


Chart of Little’s Cost Estimates

*Costs have been rounded.

**No land acquisition costs have been included.

(1) Page 714 of Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan Full Report.

(2) Page 4 of Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan Executive Summary:

(3) Page 5 of Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan Executive Summary

(4) Pages 6 & 7 of Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan Executive Summary.


Putting a large school expenditure in context may be helpful and may explain why it is not possible for Davie County to accept even 50 percent of the cost of the choices identified by Little.  In Davie County, for every $5 million in borrowing cost the property tax rate in Davie County will increase by 1 cent.


Chart of Tax Rate Increases


Little’s ReportCode

DavieFirst  DescriptionHigh School

CountywideTax Rate Per $100 of Assessed Value

Tax Rate Increase Necessary For Little’s Choices

Percentage Increase in Tax Rate

Avenue A Existing site: Expand, replace and improve HS

62 cents

16.0 cents


Avenue B Existing site: New HS

62 cents

19.9 cents


Avenue C New site: New HS

62 cents

19.6 cents



If DavieFirst’s recommendation is considered, the percentage tax increase for $25 million in debt would be 8.1 percent and for $30 million would be 9.7 percent.  The need for improvements and repairs costing $80 to 100 million do not occur overnight.  It is clear that prior Boards of Education and Commissioners were borrowing in behalf of future taxpayers.  The future is now, and now is the time to pay.  The issue now is pay for what and how much?  Past boards have kicked the can down the road each time they failed to address the needs of our schools.  It is time to “step up to the plate.”

Little can help Davie County develop a building and repair plan.  It is time for our superintendent to step forward and articulate a significantly improved academic plan so that we may have an opportunity to understand and discuss the plan and assign a cost to the plan as well as the renovations and repairs to our school facilities.  Davie County is classified as a “low wealth county” by North Carolina.  Over the past several years, our county has received approximately $2 million in supplemental funding from North Carolina because of our failure to maintain adequate education funding levels.

It is my initial impression that Little was a good choice for the facilities study, and Little has developed enough information to enable Davie County to identify the important needs that require attention.  With Little’s input, there is no reason why the initial $6 million dollars that has be identified for renovation at Davie High School cannot be spent very soon.




List of Persons Interviewed By Little:


Anderson, Chris Anderson, Christie Barrett, Dan
Bralley, Christine Bralley, Terry Boardwine, Amy
Bomar, Chad Budd, Ken Carney, Teddi
Caudle, John Chandler, John Danison, Sister Susie
Eaton, Jim Edwards, Dr. Joel Etter, Barry
Fuller, Phil Graham, Dorothy Foster, Diane
Foust, Bill Harbour, Rev. Shelby Harpe, Slayton
Julia Howard Junker, Clint Klein, Anita
Koontz, Jack Mace, Linda Marion, Rebecca
McDaniel, Randy Myers, Jerry Osborne, Rebecca
Rittling, Dr. Mary Rollins, Lee Scott, Clyde
Scott, Gladys Shehata, Towfik Simpson, Jane
Slabach, Angie  Suiter, Julius Swicegood, Jerry
VanHoy, Hank Wright, Zack

Link to Executive Summary:




Coming Next:


Part II: A Dinner Menu vs. An A La Carte Menu

More Analysis of the Facilities Assessment & Long Range Plan

March 30, 2012

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