Principal to lead two elementary schools in 2017-18 year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2017

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — When July rolls around, Kristine Wolfe will be principal of not one but two elementary schools.

The Woodleaf Elementary School principal on Monday was named principal of Cleveland Elementary, in addition to her current position.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted to approve Wolfe’s appointment during a closed session.

Wolfe will take the reins at Cleveland from Rebecca Kepley-Lee, who plans to retire July 1. Kepley-Lee announced her retirement May 2.

Doubling up as principal solves a long-asked question: Who will run the new elementary school in the western part of the county?

“They’re hoping that this will start to pave the way for the merging of the two schools,” said Rita Foil, the school system’s public information officer.

Consolidating Cleveland and Woodleaf elementaries into a new, larger western elementary school has been in the works since 2014. The discussion began in 2008, but a public outcry put the decision on hold.

Aging buildings and a single working well at Woodleaf — in addition to safety concerns about the layout of both schools — put the issue back on the table.

The school will be built on the grounds of the current Cleveland Elementary, with construction planned to start in the summer or fall. Staff members are tentatively planning for a December 2018 opening, should construction begin this summer.

It’s that uncertain opening date that prompted the dual position for Wolfe.

“It’s difficult to hire a principal to go into a school for just a year,” Superintendent Lynn Moody said.

According to Foil, the schools — approximately eight miles apart, as the crow flies — already work closely together. Wolfe overseeing both schools will help cement them and will allow Wolfe to get to know the Cleveland faculty in the same way she knows Woodleaf’s.

“It’s a really good opportunity for them to start working together as a team between the two schools,” Moody said.

Next year, Wolfe will travel back and forth between the schools, supported on each campus by a team of assistant principals on day-to-day operations.

The two schools are on different time frames. Woodleaf starts its day at 7:30 a.m. and Cleveland, at 8:30 a.m.

“Which helps a little bit,” Moody said.

Moody said she’s not concerned that the job will be too difficult. It will be challenging, but both schools are small and have experienced assistant principals.

“I think it will work great,” she said.

Wolfe became principal at Woodleaf in July 2014.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.