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China Grove Town Council talks about school consolidation

CHINA GROVE — Six weeks after the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education heard a recommendation to close 11 schools, members of the China Grove Town Council met Tuesday to discuss the plan’s possible effects.

Impacts for the town come in Tier 2 of the proposed three-tier plan. Corriher-Lipe and China Grove middle schools would be consolidated into a new South Middle School. Similarly, Enochville, China Grove and Landis elementary schools would be consolidated into a new South Rowan Elementary.

Mayor Lee Withers and Councilman Rodney Phillips both spoke positively about the plan and its potential impacts for China Grove.

“I don’t think it’s anything that’s a negative, what we’re looking at, what they’re trying to do,” said Withers.

Withers said he and Phillips had met with school board Chairman Josh Wagner last Wednesday to discuss the plan.

“Some of the things we brought up to him were the growth that’s coming to the southern end of the county,” Withers said. “If they’re going to build new schools, we want to raise our hands and say, ‘Let’s build them here.'”

Playing in China Grove’s favor is that the school system already owns about 38 acres along Bostian Road and U.S. 29, he said, which could save the system millions as it looks at building a school.

Withers also said the consolidation could offer the town a means of addressing its own capital needs. Growth had both the Police Department and Town Hall buildings at maximum capacity, and the town could see opportunity to acquire two existing, large-footprint campuses “at a decent price,” he said.

Phillips said he was very encouraged by the meeting with Wagner.

“He was optimistic that if any municipality was in support of what (the school board) was doing, then they would certainly sit down with us and work with us and hear our ideas,” Phillips said. “Consolidation could get nasty, but the benefit to all of us in the town is huge.”

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting:

• The council heard an update from the Rowan County Economic Development Commission and Duke Energy regarding the Duke Site Readiness program.

Duke is working with Alliance Consulting Engineers to develop comprehensive visioning materials for 300 acres east and west of Interstate 85.

Materials included looks at the topography, soils, flood plains, wetlands and more.

• The council approved a conditional-use permit for an auto sales facility on U.S. 29 near Columbus Street and Hardin Drive.

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