Salisbury City Council looks to Salisbury’s future at retreat

Published 12:10 am Friday, January 29, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

The Salisbury City Council talked about the future of the city during the second day of its 31st Annual Future Directions and Goal Setting Retreat on Thursday.

Tom Westall again facilitated the retreat.

Before discussing future directions, attendees heard a presentation from Michael Waiksnis and Latoya Dixon, the co-principals of Knox Middle School. The co-principals presented their plan to phase in a magnet school concept into Knox.

Superintendent Lynn Moody said she would not expect principals like Waiksnis and Dixon to stay at Knox if they were not being paid what they deserved.

“We’re all in this business as educators because we want to do good things and we want to be committed and we want be loyal,” Moody said, “but at the end of the day, we have to pay our bills, too.”

Council member Brian Miller said education is at the center of starting to solve all of the city’s other problems.

“The perception from folks outside and inside about our school system and about the quality of the education here has a direct correlation to our opportunity to create tax base and improvement in job growth and opportunity and everything for our citizens,” he said.

Mayor Pro-tem Maggie Blackwell decided to make a motion to help the school system and the co-principals of Knox.

“Mayor, if I may, I’d like to move that we increase our contribution to the Rowan-Salisbury schools, for the purpose of the salaries for Knox Middle School’s principals, that we increase that amount by $70,000 per year, beginning in the 2016-17 year and continuing through the 17-18 year,” she said.

The council approved it unanimously.

Along with education, attendees also discussed the opportunities and threats the city is facing.

One opportunity that was mentioned by John Sofley, head of the public services and parks and recreations division, was the chance to change the outside perception of Salisbury.

“When I’ve been elsewhere, I’ve gotten some very negative comments about things that have been publicized in our community,” Sofley said.

Ruth Kennerly, human resources director, mentioned that there is a chance to heal community relations.

“If this community does not heal, I’m sorry to say, but we can have great leaders, great plans and money, and it can all crumble,” she said.

Council member David Post said that after hearing from the superintendent and the co-principals of Knox, the threat of losing good employees and citizens is a real one.

“I’d hate to lose any of these people. We’ve got some great people … and they’re the ones that make things happen,” he said.

Towards the end of the retreat, Westall divided the room up into five groups to discuss what they wanted Salisbury to be known for in the future.

When they whittled it down, the top answers including Salisbury becoming a leader in diversity and inclusion, sustainability and livability, education and partnership and collaboration.

The council decided to let the different city departments edit and fill in the cracks of how they could accomplish the vision and come back some time around March to present the information.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.