School closures, consolidation back on the agenda for Rowan-Salisbury

School closures recommended in Rowan County

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The issue of school consolidation and closing some of the 35 schools in the Rowan-Salisbury School system was again a topic of discussion during the Monday meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

“Don’t be too overly anxious at this point, engage in the conversation, think about real solutions," Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said. “We’ve lost some enrollment and over time we have to right size our schools.

In a meeting in October the Rowan-Salisbury School Board discussed how to handle $200 million worth of capital needs across the system. The needs relate to maintenance required for aging schools, and the deficit that is run each year.

Based upon the work of the capital needs committee, the following school consolidation recommendation was made to the Board of Education.

According to the school system, the annual cost to maintain 35 schools is roughly $5.3 million. The system receives $2.4 million each year, leaving a deficit each of year of more than $2.9 million per year.

According to a video posted by the school system on Monday, items that require maintenance include boilers, carpets, chillers, elevators, fire alarms, heat pumps, roofing, paving, and painting, to name a few.

The system says it needs approximately $153,123 per year, per school, for maintenance.

In addition, there are approximately 2000 empty desks across the system.

Closing and merging schools has routinely been suggested, but has typically met with community opposition when specific schools have been mentioned.

In 2017 the capital needs committee came up with a plan to have the board consider closing six elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools, though specific schools were not mentioned at that time.

North Rowan High is on the list to be closed during the first of three tiers. The capacity for the 60-year-old school is 1100, currently there are just over 500 students.

“We’re not even at half capacity inside that building in a very aging facility," Dr. Moody added.

In the video posted on Monday, the school system says it will begin meeting with community members.

“As we work through this process, the Board of Education is interested in your feedback,” the video says. “Over the coming months we will be reaching out to hear your input on how to solve this problem.”

The community input sessions will be held at Salisbury High on Dec. 4; East Rowan High, Dec. 5; Carson High, Dec.11; South Rowan High, Dec. 12; West Rowan High, Dec. 18; and North Rowan High, Dec. 19.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.