Editorial: Families like their schools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The biggest buying decision most people make is where to buy a house, and young families often conduct their search with one thing in mind: Where will the children go to school?

Though the polls conducted on the Salisbury Post website are not scientific, reaction to the poll that asked about school consolidation probably accurately reflects the sentiment rippling through Rowan County right now. Two-thirds favor keeping neighborhood schools. But that’s only part of the question.

We presented the poll knowing the school board was looking at consolidation in broad terms, and that Cleveland and Woodleaf elementaries were to be replaced by a new school. Soon the board heard a plan — the first of several, possibly — that specifically mentioned closing Enochville, Faith, Morgan and Mount Ulla elementary schools. Imagine how shocking that news was to the parents of the 2,000 students who attend those schools.

The anger of parents at Enochville, Faith, Morgan and Mount Ulla is understandable. They live far out in the county because that’s where they want to raise children and send them to school. Keep in mind, though, that the school board has not decided anything about closing those schools. The closings are part of “Scenario 1,” as the consultants said. Other scenarios will be presented. This is just the beginning of the process. 

The dilemma facing the school board is not as simple as the Post poll implied, unfortunately. There’s a cost to running and maintaining 20 neighbhorhood schools. It would be irresponsible of the school board not to look at streamlining costs when so many seats —1,800 —are empty.

Once upon a time, some 50 years ago, each Rowan community had its own high school and was proud of it. China Grove and Landis high schools, for example, were arch rivals. Yet they came together to form South Rowan. So it went in forming East Rowan, West Rowan and North Rowan, too. The county has a history of coming together on education. Rowan needs to come together again and not let the issue of school consolidation drive us apart.