ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Board members and school staff spent hours on Wednesday going over two of the trickiest issues a school system can face: redistricting, and a consolidation plan that would include closing and demolishing some schools.
The meeting began with members going over input from residents. That input came from a series of community input sessions held across the county over the last few weeks.
“I think hearing the feedback has been great," said Board Chairman Josh Wagner.
The largest and most vocal crowd was found at North Rowan High School in Spencer. Most residents let the board know they don’t want that school closed, even though it’s currently at less than 50% of capacity.
During the Wednesday meeting the board voted unanimously to “dismiss discussion of closing North Rowan High School until redistricting is implemented.”
“They’re looking at a variety of solutions," said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody.
The motivation behind these discussions is the ongoing costs associated with aging schools., some of which were built in the 1920′s and ’30′s.
The annual cost to the school system to maintain 35 schools is $5.3 million, yet the system only gets $2.4 million, running an annual deficit of $2.9 million, and a total of $200 million in capital needs.
Under the first tier of the three-tiered plan, the system would close and demolish Knox Middle, North Rowan High, Henderson High, Overton, Faith, Granite Quarry, Rockwell Elementary, then build a new K-8 grade school in Salisbury, and a new eastern Rowan elementary.
On Wednesday afternoon the board did vote to put off deciding what to with Knox Middle School until July, to give an opportunity to explore public/private partnerships.
The board also decided to look at options when it comes to building a new, stand alone Career & Technical Education School.
“We are thinking that today the board will process all of that information and make some decisions whether they’re going to adopt what staff has given them in the committee or make some changes to that," added Dr. Moody.
“Hopefully, maybe we can start eliminating some things and find areas of improvement as we move forward," Wagner said.