Surveying error raises costs for new high school project

The surveyor misidentified a non-potable city water line

n a construction update on the new Hoke County High School, at its May 14 meeting, the Hoke County Schools Board of Education was told the district had to eat into a large portion of its contingency funds due to a surveying discrepancy.

“At the beginning of the project, the surveyor went out and identified a water line that went by the stadium and across the footprint of the school and out towards the front,” said project manager John Birath. “They had identified that as a water line, which it was, however it is not a potable water line. That was a well surface line for the city of Raeford that goes to the water treatment plant. That was not discovered until about January, so everything had already been bid out, tractors had mobilized and they were getting to start their connections and tie-ins to that line.”

In response, the utility plan had to be revised in order to both reroute the city waterline around the school building, and also place new water lines to service the school and service the field house and irrigation.

So far, the new high school has spent about 30% of its contingency budget or just shy of $400,000.

Birath said the costs could not be attributed to either the contractor or designer, as the surveyor was hired by Hoke County Schools.

“The good news though, is we’re completing some other changes with some actual savings,” Birath said. “We had a big one with the geothermal field. We were able to reduce it by quite a bit, which is then going to turn into a lot of savings and we’ll be updating you on those final amounts at your next board meeting.”

The board also approved the 2024-25 local budget request.

“I’m hoping that the county commissioners will agree with me, but if they don’t I hope they give us a cushion,” said Hoke Schools Finance Officer Willena Richardson.

Board member Ruben Castellon requested to have $6 million added to the budget request for land banking, but his motion failed without a second, as a few other board members stated they knew that the request would not be approved by the Board of Commissioners.

“An issue that the County Commissioners had the last time was that we didn’t have land identified,” said Board Member Keisha Gill. “They’re not just going to give us money just to hold for some land, and we don’t know where to build. We don’t have land that’s been identified. So, I really think that’s going to be an issue.”

“It’s the board of education’s duty to plan for schools,” Castellon responded. “There is no reason why we cannot request for money. … We can’t speak for the County Commissioners.”

The board also acknowledged the district nominees for Governor’s School.

“The goal of Governor’s School is for students to help build a vibrant learning community,” said Director of AIG and Advanced Studies Linden Cummings. “Learning focuses on the exploration of the most recent ideas and the concepts in each discipline. It emphasizes cooperative and collective efforts ranging from orchestral and choral music to partner experiments and whole class projects.”

The four nominees are Cameela Byrd from Hoke County High School and Anselmo Sanchez, Allison Pratt and Christopher Jones from SandHoke Early College High School.

According to Cummings, the AIG program will pay the $600 tuition for each student.

Finally, the district saw an uptick in vacancies, now having ballooned to 110 total vacancies, although there is a job fair planned for June 8. The superintendent also recommended a new clear backpack policy at Hoke High School for next year.

The Hoke County Schools Board of Education will next meet June 11.