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Long-term planning key for Travis Allen in bid for re-election to Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education

SALISBURY — Being the husband of a teacher and father to public school students prompted Travis Allen to seek his first term on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in 2016. That still pushes him forward as he seeks re-election as the board’s West area representative.

“I like to see positive things happen in our schools. I like to see positive things happen in our school system,” he said.

Allen, 47, is a West Rowan native, attending Woodleaf Elementary and graduating from West Rowan High School before seeking his undergraduate degree at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. He is a detective with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

Allen said he tries to bring “a layman’s opinion” to the board — that of a lifetime Rowan County resident, employee, teacher’s spouse and district parent.

One of the biggest issues the board will have to tackle in the future is becoming a renewal district — a school system with charter-like flexibilities.

“It’s a lot more intricate than it lets on to be,” Allen said. “And I think that’s going to be hard to manage at first.”

But it’s an exciting opportunity and hard work that he’s looking forward to.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge for the administration and the board to manage 30 different directions. I think the next few years are going to be setting parameters inside that freedom,” Allen said. “But I think it’s only going to be positive. Public education — even nationally — can’t continue to do what we’re doing. It has to change. If not, in 15 years there won’t be any public education.”

For Allen, becoming a renewal district is closely tied to the issue of school consolidation or redistricting. Several Rowan County schools are in poor condition, he said, and some are too empty while others are too full. The renewal presents the perfect opportunity for long-term planning for population fluctuations.

“The school board is going to have to start planning for that,” he said.

Both issues are also closely tied to capital needs for Allen.

“I think our capital needs are a piece of that,” he said. “… That’s a large conversation to have, but I think that conversation needs to start. People don’t want to talk about that, but we need to be efficient.”

Allen has his sights set on the new West Rowan Elementary School, which will open this winter.

“That’s an exciting thing to see, to see that completed,” he said.

The new school will result in the closures of the historic Cleveland and Woodleaf elementary schools. Allen said he wants to see the Woodleaf site turned into a park, a community center or some other gathering place.

“I want to push for something in the Woodleaf community where the school building is now. I don’t want to see it become an eyesore,” he said. “… That’s a very tight-knit community there, and they did center around their school. … It’s important that that property remain a focal point in that community and not be forgotten about.”

Allen lives in Mount Ulla with his wife of 25 years, Michelle. They have four children, two who graduated from West Rowan High School and two who attend Rowan-Salisbury schools.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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