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New Knox Middle co-principals meet City Council

SALISBURY — The new co-principals for Knox Middle School met Salisbury City Council members on Tuesday and pledged to do their best.
Dr. Michael Waiksnis and Dr. Latoya Dixon have been friends and worked together in the Rock Hill school district, although not at the same school, for 10 years.
“We have established a sense of professional trust as well as personal trust that’s been in existence for a long time,” Dixon said.
They are excited about the opportunity to work together in the same building every day, she said.
“We are dedicated to doing a very good job — our very best — at Knox Middle School for those children,” Dixon said.
The co-principal concept is still new to many, she said, and the community has warmly welcomed the pair.
Waiksnis said their top priority is to make sure students are prepared for Salisbury High School and beyond. He said he and Dixon have an “extreme focus on student achievement.”
Waiksnis noted physical changes at the Knox campus this year, including new paint, landscaping and other improvements.
Mayor Paul Woodson said people are “geared up in the city right now and feel our schools are going to move forward.” Three schools in the Rowan-Salisbury School System are in the city limits — Knox, Overton Elementary and Salisbury High.
In an unusual arrangement, the city is paying Waiksnis and Dixon each $15,000 annually for four years, separate from their employment with Rowan-Salisbury Schools. They signed a contract with the city in June to create and implement a school transformation plan for Knox, which had four principals from 2008 to 2013.
The co-principals are also on the faculty at Catawba College.
No one brought up the contract with the city at Tuesday’s meeting. City Council members had given approval for the arrangement during separate, private meetings with the mayor.
Woodson has said that contracting with the co-principals, who arrived with top-notch credentials including Waiksnis’ S.C. principal of the year award and are considered turnaround experts, was less expensive than trying to take over operation of Knox, which some business leaders had asked the city to consider.
In other business Tuesday, City Council:
• Approved new stairs at St. John’s Lutheran Church that will encroach by 1 foot into the city’s right of way.
• Acknowledged the 40th anniversary of the federal Community Development Block Program, which has helped the city and Salisbury Community Development Commission pay for projects like the West End Business and Community Center, Park Avenue Community Center, several parks and new housing in the Park Avenue, Jersey City and West End neighborhoods.
• Agreed to reimburse the N.C. Department of Transportation by Salisbury-Rowan Utilities for a project estimated cost to $13,730.
N.C. DOT plans to make improvements at the intersection of Gold Knob Road, Crescent Road and Anthony Road in Rowan County. N.C. DOT requested that Salisbury reimburse the state for the cost of relocating public water utilities that will be in conflict with proposed changes located within state’s right-of-way.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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