Commissioners ask state for help with class size requirements

Commissioners ask state for  help with class size requirements
January 25
03:00 2018

Forsyth County commissioners approved additional funding for the Nurse-Family Partnership and appealed to the state for help with smaller classroom requirements during their Thursday, Jan. 18, meeting.

The commissioners voted to receive a previously announced state grant of $603,350 for the Nurse-Family partnership, which follows a national model that teams first-time mothers with nurses in order to improve child and maternal health. The funding is reoccurring and will reduce down to $503,350 for next year. The funding allows the program to expand from five nurses to eight, which will allow it to serve 200 mothers at a time.

The program is one of several that have been credited for helping reduce infant mortality in Forsyth County.  When the Nurse-Family Partnership began locally, the county had an infant mortality rate of 10.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Since then, it’s dropped to a historically low 6.4 in 2014, though that number rose in 2016 to 9.3 deaths.

“There is no program that has worked in as many places for as long as Nurse-Family Partnership,” said County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon in a briefing earlier this month. “The evidence shows that this is the most effective program.”

At the suggestion of Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt, commissioners also approved a resolution asking the General Assembly for funding to help with a new state requirement that kindergarten through third-grade classes be reduced from 20 students to 18. The resolution said that to comply with the requirements, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools would need to build 300 additional classrooms and hire 100 additional teachers, which would cost $10 million  to $20 million. The school system is planning to eliminate computer labs to free up space to help meet the requirement, but doesn’t plan to eliminate art, music or physical education.

Also during the meeting:

*Commissioners approved a $2.2 million contract to NMP Golf Construction Corp. for remodeling the Tanglewood Championship Golf Course. No bidder for this 2016 bond referendum project met the 10 percent minority subcontractor participation goal, but NMP was closest at 8.18 percent and was found to have made good faith efforts to contact minority subcontractors.

*Commissioners approved an additional $3.4 million for construction and completion of a replacement stadium for Mt. Tabor High School, which is one of the 2016 school bond projects.

*Commissioners approved an additional  $1.4 million for Idol’s Road Business Park, which the county is building next to Tanglewood Park. The funds are coming from money left over from last year’s budget and will be used for various expenses associated with the project like construction of a stormwater retention pond, purchasing a small piece of land to provide access to the park and a transportation impact study.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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