Salisbury City Council talks out future projects with school board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 27, 2018

SALISBURY — Members of the Salisbury City Council and the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education met together Monday night to discuss several potential projects and the benefits they could have for the community.

Mayor Al Heggins, Mayor Pro Tem David Post and council members Karen Alexander and Tamara Sheffield sat with school board members to add input and ask questions about the proposed Isenberg Elementary School dual-immersion program, Knox Center for Accelerated Studies’ renewal plan, Knox Middle architectural services, and the design for the Salisbury High School gym addition.

The first joint meeting in years between the two boards will not be the last, according to Heggins and school board Chairman Josh Wagner.

“We’re looking forward to the work we can do here for the city of Salisbury together, for our kids, for our students,” Heggins said.

Wagner said this is the first of many discussions between the two entities.

“Just having everybody here and having the opportunity to do this is exciting and sets us up for things the down the road,” Wagner said.

He added the board is willing to work with other towns across the county.

“This will be something that we will continue to do and expand on with other municipalities,” he said. “I just think it’s something that is exciting to be a part of.”

School board member Richard Miller not so subtly suggested that the city contribute funds to the projects if it has any, getting laughs from the room.

Isenberg Elementary Principal Marvin Moore gave a presentation on dual immersion, which would offer a way for students to learn Spanish starting in kindergarten. Moore spoke about a program in which the students had a passport and learned about different countries.

“They didn’t see themselves as kids from low socio-economic situations,” Moore said. “They actually saw themselves as a tourist in other places.”

Miller offered his support for the dual-immersion program, saying he won’t be at the next board meeting. Miller did not run for re-election.

“I want us to get on with this tomorrow,” Miller said. “I think there is plenty of documentation that shows the benefit of dual language goes far beyond the language, and we need to be offering it in Salisbury-Rowan.”

Alisha Byrd-Clark said she “wholeheartedly supports it.”

Post asked if school officials expect the demand to be higher than the supply. Moore said yes, adding there are plans to expand it.

Michael Courtwright, principal at Knox Middle School, asked for support for a program to attract and retain teachers. The plan would have several lead teachers who would coach other members of the staff.

The lead teacher base salary would be $75,000. Courtwright explained that with restructuring and saving money lost from a high turnover rate, the program wouldn’t need additional funds. The plan would also include compensation for teachers.

Board member Travis Allen commended the two proposals as offering a “truly personalized education.”

The board approved architecture firms for two projects. LS3P Architects will be the architect for Knox Middle architectural services. Alexander noted the firm is one of the top in the state.

ADW Architects was awarded the contract for the Salisbury High gym addition.