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Editorial: Time to work out central office

Someday, the people of Rowan County will look back on these days and wonder why the community struggled for decades to choose a site for the public schoolsí central office.
Salisbury City Council did its part this week to move things forward by agreeing to give the school system land on South Main Street. The lease-purchase agreement the school board has been considering was drawn up with that downtown site in mind. For the city, donating land for such a facility is clearly an investment in economic development.
Still, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education took pains earlier this week to say it was not wedded to the downtown site alone; the board is willing to compromise. In that spirit, the board said the North Ellis street site of some current administrative offices is on the table, too.
In recent years, county commissioners have offered other solutions for the far-flung and in some cases dilapidated school offices. The former Department of Social Services building on West Innes Street was discussed as a stopgap. Also mentioned recently have been at least two other sites: county land off Old Concord Road, near the schoolsí bus garage, and Cornerstone Churchís property and buildings on Webb Road. Commissioners have finally acknowledged the need for a central office, but they donít like the downtown site.
Meanwhile, a small but loud chorus chimes in at any mention of a new central office, saying the system cannot afford it and ought to focus on other things.
Bringing everyone into agreement on this issue is as likely as getting Congress in harmony. As with any political power struggle, everyone has something to prove.
But nothing is impossible. Hereís what our leaders and involved citizens can prove as they try to resolve this issue:
That we are responsible stewards of taxpayersí money and believe in investing in the future.
That we can find positive, creative solutions of which everyone can be proud.
That we value education highly, from preschool through college ó not just in the words we say but also in the actions we take.
That we respect the faculty, staff and administrators who make education happen.
That we want to be part of the solution when it comes to education, not solely critics and second-guessers.
That our leaders respect each other and each othersí autho rity.
That elected leaders ó county, school board and city ó can work together to raise Rowan Countyís profile as a good place to live, work, learn and raise families.
If Rowan County canít reach a solution this time around, years from now weíll still be pointing fingers at each other. And weíll be asking the school board why it didnít take advantage of lower construction costs. There will always be critics, but the current bidding environment wonít last forever.

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