NK boards on same page on food bank
New Kent school and county government officials apparently are on the same page in supporting use of the cafeteria inside the county’s “Historic School” as a community food pantry. But they have also come to an understanding that should school needs change in the future, the food pantry may have to relocate.
School Board chairman Joe Yates and school superintendent Rick Richardson met with supervisors Marty Sparks and Ray Davis and county administrator Cabell Lawton last Friday to discuss what some perceived as a disagreement over use of space inside the old school.
During the meeting, Yates said school officials endorse the food pantry use, but added the cafeteria could come back in play if the science building next door to the cafeteria becomes the site for career and technical education programs.
“If we have classes for that, the cafeteria may have to come back in use as a school thing,” he said.
The same could happen, he said, if schools experience overcrowding and are forced to resort to the science building to handle student overflow.
He added the site could serve in the interim in place of a third elementary school or middle school expansion, both future projects, or possibly for special education.
“We don’t want to seem like we’re the bad guys, kicking someone out to get it back,” Yates said.
He labeled the food pantry use a “great idea,” but added he believes schools need an alternative to career and technical training other than sending students as is done now to attend programs at Richmond Technical Center.
Richardson stressed that a New Kent-based career and technical education program is a “visioning process” and there are no plans on the table to create a trade-based center in the county.
“What I’m hearing here is no real disagreement, but some concern,” Sparks told the school officials.
“I don’t think this will put you guys in a position five years down the road that will be a real concern,” he said. “We’re going to take care of the kids.”
Officials from both sides agreed to proceed on the food pantry concept. If future space issues arise, one suggested alternative is to relocate the food pantry elsewhere in the complex, perhaps to the building that once housed the school’s art room and is now home to psychological services.
Sparks said, “If schools eventually need something, we’ll have to take care of it.”