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Editorial: Look beyond the scuffle over Knox

The push to improve conditions at Knox Middle School has deteriorated into a sparring match, and both sides are getting bruised.
In one corner, we have Bill Godair, the preacher who turned a genuine plea to help Knox Middle School into a personal soapbox to question the Rowan-Salisbury School Systemís ethics and finances.
In the other corner is the school systemís administration, led by Dr. Judy Grissom, who released little information about the situation at Knox until called out by Godair in a letter shared with county commissioners and the media. The good pastor, declaiming ěany intent to bring harm or embarrass,î accused the system of maintaining secret accounts.
So much for working together.
First things first. The school system undergoes an annual audit by Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, just as the countyís books are audited by Martin Starnes & Associates. For either the school system or the county to maintain a secret account, someone would have to fool professional accountants.
But the smear is out there now ó from a preacher, no less ó and the spotlight has shifted from improving Knox to blocking a central office, a project yet to be realized more than 20 years after the Rowan and Salisbury systems merged. Grissom and company want to keep the two issues separate; theyíve found a developer and a lease-purchase opportunity that actually might work. Godair, who tried unsuccessfully to sell the school system property for the central office, insists on linking them, as do some county commissioners,
If embarrassing revelations about dirt and droppings at Knox shake loose funds for maintenance, this controversy will have proved worthwhile. Often it takes the glare of the spotlight to make things happen. The conditions at Knox are in part a result of trying to fix the problem. The principal and the head custodian were let go in the spring, meaning the people most responsible for the physical condition of the school had no stake in leaving it in good shape. Regardless of what the system has put into it already, Knox clearly needs more resources for both maintenance and instruction.
Should the Knox controversy kill the central office proposal? Only if the lease-purchase proposal proves unworthy. This is not a maintenance issue. For once, a private entity is willing to get this project going in partnership with the county. Commissioners have a responsibility to look beyond this scuffle to find the facts, investigate the costs and make a sound business decision. This could be an opportunity.

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