Joshua Wagner: Input on schools is vital; conversation needs to begin

Published 11:35 pm Saturday, May 7, 2016

By Joshua Wagner

Special to the Salisbury Post

It is the belief of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education that we must do more than talk about our budget challenges. Because of these challenges, we must be proactive in seeking new revenue for our system. We must also identify ways in which existing money can be spent more effectively.

With this in mind, we recently asked SfL+A architects and ORED planners to take a closer look at our system, not only as it stands today, but also as it may stand in the future. We asked for one recommendation that could help us maximize existing revenue.

As we all know, their recommendation consisted of closing four schools, in addition to the already planned consolidation of Cleveland and Woodleaf schools in the West Rowan area. The board acknowledges that the current proposal offers far more questions than answers. In light of these unanswered questions, our board will not consider the proposed closures of Mt. Ulla, Faith, Enochville, and Morgan elementary schools.

Although we will not consider these proposed closures, we will move forward with the plan to provide a new elementary school for Cleveland and Woodleaf. The West Rowan Elementary project has been identified by many in the county as vital for the West Rowan area. This project was specifically mentioned in the funding agreement that was approved by the Board of County Commissioners in April of 2014.

Due to Woodleaf’s age and water issues, all parties agreed that we must act. Furthermore, it was determined that funding would be best utilized by building one school for both the Cleveland and Woodleaf communities.

In regards to future solutions, we acknowledge the vital nature of community input. We believe that it is this county’s responsibility to begin a conversation that will involve a lengthy vetting and analysis process by community members. Only after this process can we as a county decide our future.

On behalf of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, thank you for your continued commitment to this process, our students, and this county.

Joshua Wagner is chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.