School board approves new, later start times for Rowan-Salisbury schools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education passed a proposal that will back up school start times, and will provide consistency for teachers and students alike.

The district’s middle schools will start at 7:30 a.m. and high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. Elementary Schools will be split into two groups, half of which will start with the high schools and half of which will start with the middle schools.

This new schedule gives district officials more time to decide on weather related closing or delays during the winter months, allows high schoolers to start school later in the morning, provides consistent work hours for teachers at all schools and provides consistent start times by grade span.

“It will definitely buy us some time in the mornings,” said Transportation Director Tim Beck.

“We weighed the pros and cons,” said South Rowan High School Principal Kelly Withers, who was on the Academic Day Design Committee, adding that the group felt the academic benefits outweighed the disadvantages.

“The number one goal was instruction time,” said Salisbury High School principal Luke Brown, who was also on the committee.

In a 4-3 vote, the board appropriated an additional $400,000 from its fund balance to bleacher repairs at the district’s middle and high schools, bringing the total to $900,000.

Susan Cox, Dr. Richard Miller and Jean Kennedy voted against the measure, Chairman Josh Wagner, Vice Chairman Dean Hunter, Travis Allen and Chuck Hughes voted in favor of the measure.

The bleacher projects will be bid out as one large package.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann brought updated cost estimates, including anticipated inflation, for a consolidated elementary school in the western part of the county and for Knox Middle School to the board. The estimate for the elementary school is $26,018,925, while the estimate for Knox is $24,201,750.

The proposed elementary school would house the 650 students who currently attend Cleveland and Woodleaf elementary schools, and would be built to handle up to 800 students, with a core capacity of 920.

There are a lot of variables to the price of the elementary school project, Vann said, adding that the actual price could be greatly influenced by the land purchased.

The board also unanimously passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to revisit current legislation that defunds driver’s education.

North Carolina School districts are required to provide driver’s education, with a maximum fee of $65 per student. The true cost per student falls somewhere between $170-$350, however.

“I don’t think we need unfunded mandates,” said Cox.

The board also discussed how teacher assistant positions are funded and where they are utilized most often ahead of the board’s joint budget retreat with County Commissioners Wednesday.