KCS board election brings newcomer to the ring

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Joanie Morris
Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLIS ó Residents will get to vote on their choice for Kannapolis City School Board in the upcoming election May 6. It will be the only election for the school board.
Incumbent Lee Efird faces challenger Todd Adams for his Area I seat on the school board, which includes the Rowan County portion of Kannapolis. Residents all over the city will be able to vote for their choice.
Efird, 54, of 2103 Moose Road, said he is running “on the platform of Kannapolis City Schools and the success of the KCS system.”
“Top to bottom and bottom to top,” Efird said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Efird and Adams agree that one of the most important issues in the community is controlling growth and how to plan for growth in the school system. However, they have different ideas on planning for that growth.
Efird said a school system committee recently completed a study that looked at projected growth and determined that another elementary school is needed.
“The plan there is to build a new intermediate school and convert the current intermediate school into an elementary school to give us a more centrally located elementary school,” Efird said. The proposed intermediate school would be built on land acquired by the school system adjacent to Kannapolis Middle School in southwest Kannapolis. “They can share facilities. There’s quite a few advantages to that.”
Efird said the goal is to have the new school operational in the next two to three years, but one thing could hold the system back.
“Where does the money come from as we move towards addressing the issue of growth?” he asked. “That money’s going to have to come from the county. What we have proposed, or we’re hoping to be involved in, is a bond issue. We have been told we will be a part of any bond campaign that will come forward.”
Adams disagrees that an elementary school is the answer to the growth issues facing Kannapolis. While he feels building an intermediate school adjacent to the middle school is a great idea, and will likely save money in the long run, he feels that schools at the higher-education level are more needed.
“As we look to the future, when you see schools like the new middle school already using mobile classrooms, to me, that is not planning,” Adams said. “I think we need to plan for our buildings. We don’t need to think about what we need today, but what we need down the road.”
Adams said that school systems now are using schools for 50 years or more. Therefore, planning for the next 50 years, rather than the next five or even 10, is an absolute necessity.
“If that means building larger classrooms that can be divided later, that’s what you do,” Adams said, offering one solution to the problem. “You do what you can to make a building last longer.”
Adams said that by looking at the student count by grade, anyone can get a decent indication that the schools that are going to be needed down the road are the higher-education schools.
“Because we currently have multiple elementary schools, and only one intermediate, middle and high school,” Adams said. “It’s easier to spread that overcrowding issue over the five elementary schools. It’s the higher schools you need to address first in my opinion, because there’s nowhere else to disperse them around town.”
Other issues that Efird and Adams agree on are how the school system is doing on preventing dropout rates from climbing, and even lowering those rates. Both praise programs like the Freshman Academy at A.L. Brown High School, which works as a blanket to help transition students from middle school to high school, and a program at the intermediate school to help identify problems there and address them before they turn into reasons for the student to drop out.
The changes coming to the school system because of construction of the N.C. Research Campus are also good changes, Efird and Adams agree.
Efird added that biotechnology is currently being integrated into all levels of the curriculum of Kannapolis City Schools and points out that a new biotechnology and science wing is currently in the works at A.L. Brown High School.
“The kids are able to have hands-on (experience) where they are seeing where biotechnology would apply to any type career and be interesting to the students,” Efird said.
Adams said biotechnology certainly has its place in the Kannapolis City School system, because that is going to be the new face of the city.
However, he said, the school system’s job is to make sure each student gets a basic understanding of biotechnology while recognizing the field may not be where all students wish to study.
“They need a basic understanding of it because it’s important to our city and our community,” Adams said. “I think we need to have more advanced classes for students who are interested in it. Biotechnology isn’t for everyone.”
Efird is property manager at Cornerstone Cabarrus, LLC and land manager at Rocky Pee Dee Farms. He graduated from N.C. State University in 1977 with a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management.
The second of seven children, Efird graduated from A.L. Brown High School and has three children who graduated from the system. He currently has two grandchildren, “and they’ll be attending Kannapolis City Schools in the near future.” He has served on the Kannapolis City Board of Education for several terms.
“I’ve just come from an education family,” Efird said. “Aunts and uncles taught in the system. My wife taught in the system. Just a lot of connections.”
Adams first moved to Kannapolis in 1994, then moved to Concord for a short time. He returned to Kannapolis in 2003 and has one daughter in fourth grade at Forest Park Elementary School. He has two children at home, both of whom will attend school in the system.
Adams first became involved in Kannapolis City Schools as a member of the Parent Council at Forest Park Elementary School. He became president of the school’s parent-teacher organization in 2006 and remains president today.
While he has no ax to grind with anyone on the board, Adams said, he is running because, “I want a parent on the school board.”
“I understand that they (current board members) had children that went through the system, and some have grandchildren in the system,” Adams said. “I’m not questioning at all their conviction and care for the system. I just think when you have a child in the classroom, you have a better pulse on the school system.”
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or jmorris@salisburypost.com.