Ten weeks after a parent raised safety and health concerns about the Field House on the Smithfield Selma High School campus the Johnston County Board of Education took action on Tuesday.
In a prepared statement read by School Board Chairman Larry Strickland, the Board of Education unanimously agreed to tear down the Field House and order staff to work with the principal and parents to determine what should replace the building. The decision was made following a staff review of how the field house came into disrepair.
“A follow up review showed that the field house had not been used for its intended purpose for some time and the principal, Stephen Baker, had expressed concerns with the field house and its condition,” Strickland said. “However, due to other facility needs in the county, the issues were not completely addressed and no action was taken on the SSS field house. The follow up review shows: the principal acted appropriately and promptly with his concerns about the field house; there were no violations of the law or policy concerning the status and maintenance of the structure; it was an issue correctly addressed by the principal and brought to the attention of central administration.”
“At this time, I direct our Superintendent to collaborate with the principal and parents to determine what should replace the old field house. I also request that the Superintendent work with the Planning Committee, as well, to immediately begin looking into replacement of the field house to determine what type of structure could be erected,” Chairman Strickland said, adding the school board wants “…a definitive answer with action taken within the next 12 to 18 months.”
In March, Mark Lee, whose son is a member of the SSS varsity baseball team, showed pictures of mold and standing water in the building to members of the Smithfield Town Council. In response, Mayor Andy Moore sent a letter to the Board of Education demanding immediate action be taken.
Maintenance staff began soliciting bids for a new roof, electrical and plumbing but the work was put on hold until a complete assessment could be made. Officials also blocked off access to the building.
Strickland said Tuesday the school board appreciated the concerns expressed by the community about the facilities and the welfare of the students.