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School board sets public hearing for western elementary school

SALISBURY — A public hearing on the new western elementary school has been scheduled for Sept. 25.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted Monday to hold the hearing as part of its regular business meeting.

“Legally, we do need to have one more. We do need to have a formal public hearing,” board Chairman Josh Wagner said.

The new elementary school will merge the current Cleveland and Woodleaf elementary schools and will be located just behind the Cleveland Elementary building.

The final public hearing will give parents an opportunity to ask questions or express concerns about topics such as the number of classrooms, class size and transportation routes.

It’s been a long and bumpy road for the school, which was originally suggested in 2008. Community outcry at the time shut down the discussion. But in 2014, a newly elected Board of Education pushed through with plans to close Cleveland and Woodleaf — two of the system’s oldest schools and in need of major repairs — and build a single facility to house both populations.

There was some pushback, however, especially about the initial proposed site, the corner of N.C. 801 and Godbey Road. Residents voiced concerns that the location was unsafe, especially after an explosion at the adjacent Southern Power plant.

After considering several other properties, the board settled on the current plot, roughly 40 acres off Mimosa Street in Cleveland, just behind the current elementary school building.

The new school will draw students from a large chunk of West Rowan County — a fact board member Travis Allen expressed some concerns about. Allen asked Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann if the transportation department has looked at “cleaning up” routes.

Wagner jumped in to clarify that there is no intent to change attendance zones.

“Right now, there are no intents to ‘clean anything up.’ … That’s never been a discussion,” he said.

Vann agreed with the clarification and said the transportation department might look into making bus routes more efficient or adding an extra bus.

Vann also reported that the naming committee has at last made a recommendation for the new school. In keeping with other West Rowan schools — such as West Rowan Middle and West Rowan High — the committee recommended that the new school be called West Rowan Elementary School.

The committee recommended that the school colors be royal blue and white and that its mascot be the West Rowan Wildcats. The mascot recommendation came from a survey of staff and students, Vann said.

The issue of the school’s name will appear on the consent agenda at the board’s Aug. 28 meeting.

In other business Monday, the board:

  • Discussed possible substitute pay adjustments.
  • Discussed the current principal hiring process.
  • Heard a proposal about a possible occupational course of study building at West Rowan High School.
  • Discussed creating a policy instructing schools to allow enlisted seniors to wear military dress uniforms at graduation.

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