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School board faces conflict over central office name

While an official name for the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s new central office has been proposed, the vote will not be unanimous at the board’s next business meeting.

“Wallace Educational Forum” is the name proposed by the local mayors who attended a naming committee last week.

Last June, the board approved an agreement proposed by Lee and Mona Lisa Wallace in which the couple gave the district land for the central office building in the 500 block of N. Main Street in Salisbury exchange for the current administrative office located in the 300 block of N. Ellis Street. In the agreement, it was specified that the building be solely named in honor of the Wallace family.

Public Information Officer Rita Foil said the mayors chose the word, “forum,” because “it meant a congregational place you come to meet.”

School system policy dictates that the superintendent appoints a naming committee that proposes a name to the board. The board ultimately has the final decision on the name, however.

Vice Chairman Dean Hunter and board member Travis Allen, both newcomers to the board, said they would not vote for a name including the Wallace’s name because they disagree with the way the agreement with the family came about.

“People in the community aren’t going to be happy about it,” Hunter said.

“The board made a decision and that’s where we are with a legally binding contract,” said Chairman Josh Wagner. “It is what it is.”

“Is it the end of the world no matter what it’s named?” he added.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody argued that although the agreement was advertised as $200,000 in the school system’s favor, it’s actually several hundred thousand dollars more than that.

“This building that we’re in now (Ellis Street administrative office) is rent-free for two years,” she said, adding that that alone would save the district thousands of dollars.

“They asked for this in return,” she added.

“What’s your solution if you refuse to vote?” Wagner asked the dissenting members.

“If four people voted against it, we’d probably just have to go to court,” Moody said.

The board did not vote on a name Monday, because the meeting was scheduled as a work session and the board does not vote at work sessions. The board will vote at its next business meeting, scheduled for Feb. 26.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann presented the board with an updated timeline for the central office project.

The board has several more documents to approve at its next meeting before the county closes with the bank on Feb. 26. After the closing, the school system will immediately be able to issue an official notice to proceed with the contractor. The contract is 344 days, or 11 months, from the proposed March 2 start date.

Vann suggested April 8 as a date for the groundbreaking ceremony, after the current buildings on the property are demolished and initial site work has begun.

“I think April 8 is way too late,” said board member Dr. Richard Miller.

He said he feels the groundbreaking ceremony should be held as soon as they begin doing work, and that April 8 falls too close to the Easter holidays.

Vann also discussed a long-range facility study that will give the board a better idea of what repairs and future needs the district’s buildings need.

Moody said the study would give the board enough data to have an intelligent conversation with county commissioners when it comes time for budget discussions.

‘Seamless’ education

The board spent an hour discussing how Drew Charter School, a purpose built school in Atlanta, Georgia, can be a model for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. Julie Morrow, Director of Secondary Education Eisa Cox, Knox principles Dr. Michael Waiksnis and Dr. Latoya Dixon and Hunter visited its campus earlier this year.

The school, located in an area with a 99 percent poverty rate, offers birth through 12th grade education, utilizing community partnerships.

“The expectations were so high everywhere we went,” Cox said.

Morrow and Waiksnis both used the word “seamless” to describe the educational experience the children received.

“It’s hard when kids change schools,” Waiksnis said, adding that the model helps bridge achievement gaps.

Moody has a vision of building a similar learning community here in Rowan County with Overton Elementary, Knox Middle and Salisbury High School. The board will continue to discuss the possibility in the future.

School policies

The board spent a bulk of the meeting talking about policies, and made changes to those involving medical leave, school visitors and school assignments.

Staff who receive 12-month medical leave will be allowed to use a 12 month rolling calendar, ensuring that they receive a full 12 months of leave, rather than using a 12 month calendar starting in July and ending in June.

The board decided to add language to school visitor policy that explains why a source of identification is needed to visit a school and what types of identification can be used.

Under the school assignment policy, the board decided that if a student transfers to a choice school at the beginning of their freshman year, there will be no 365-day wait period for athletics. If, however, the student transfers back to their home base school, the 365-day wait period will be instated.

“We just don’t want them transferring back and forth,” Wagner said.

“It’s the school hopping that is becoming a problem,” Moody added. “They just get mad at someone and they just move.”

In other business, the Board of Education:

Asked Director of Technology Candace Salmon-Hosey for final quotes on a proposal to begin providing recordings of its meetings online at its next meeting, including what equipment will be used and separate proposals for how to run the camera and edit and upload the video.

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