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A BOE member’s thoughts on school central office issue

Despite the need to put the issue of the central office building behind us, many still dwell on it, even those who are in favor of the downtown site. Although I have argued against the project going downtown, I want to make the reasons for my dissension clear.
• This is a city of Salisbury agenda. The city fathers look out for what they believe is best for the city. Nothing wrong with that, since they were elected to represent the city. I, however, along with my colleagues on the Board of Education and the county commissioners, represent the interests of the entire county, not any single municipality. The county’s interests are not always in line with those of the city.
• The city of Salisbury has yet to respond in any meaningful way to my curiosity as to why it believes the central office building should NOT be anywhere else and the responses they do provide trouble me.
• That it will bring prosperity to the downtown sector with new employees shopping and dining during their eight-hour workday seems to remain their main reasoning. That it will bring outsiders rushing to relocate here because of the majestic building amidst the run-down buildings surrounding it seems to be a fall-back position.
• The same prosperity the city claims will follow the central office building if located downtown translates to the same prosperity if it were in another part of the county.
These arguments are difficult for me to digest despite constantly being spoon-fed them. It only makes me wonder who or what is really behind the wizard’s curtain. Could it be that the central office is needed as an anchor for other city development? Could it be a hub for a hotel and convention center? Although I do not suggest there is anything wrong with these potential reasons, I would just be more comfortable if they were brought out into the sunlight.
I also believe that when you are in debt and bills need to be paid, you buy a Ford or wait until your debt is paid off before considering a Lexus.
Despite my concerns and doubts, however, the location, the cost and the square footage of the central office building have been settled while the city labors to rid the site of years of toxicity. So unless the downtown location is off-railed by higher powers, I will swallow hard and attend the ground-breaking ceremony.
In the end, we must refocus our energies on the budget issues with a potential $2 million deficit just around the corner. So I have made my last comments on this issue and pray it finally finds peace wherever it is put to rest.

Chuck Hughes serves on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

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