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RSS School Board chairman to propose closing Faith Elementary

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury School Board Chairman Josh Wagner said he will make a recommendation today to close Faith Elementary School at the end of the school year.

Students currently attending Faith would be moved to Koontz Elementary School. A portion of current Koontz students would be redistricted into surrounding schools, Wagner said. About 200 Koontz students would be left at their current school. Koontz Elementary School’s name would not change, he said.

During today’s meeting at 1 p.m. at the Wallace Educational Forum — 500 N. Main St. — Wagner says he will seek a vote to move forward with the proposal and schedule a public hearing about the proposal. Meanwhile, a group of people from the town of Faith had already planned to attend today’s meeting. They met with Wagner and Vice Chair Susan Cox on Friday and discussed the closure proposal.

Wagner told the Post that, while there has been a lot of discussion about closures and consolidation in recent years, the school board largely has not taken action.

“This is not a conclusion that I drew easily,” Wagner said. “I absolutely understand the concerns … but I don’t believe that any one community is more important than another.”

Wagner said Faith Elementary is more than 90 years old and has more than $3.4 million in capital needs. The closure would transfer Faith students from one of the older schools in the system to one of the newest (Koontz was built in 2007 with space for 615 students).

Those protesting a proposed closure of Faith have listed the school’s consistent ranking as one of the best schools in the Rowan-Salisbury School System as a reason to keep it open. Asked about that argument, Wagner said test scores should not change significantly if teachers and students are all moved “a few miles down the road.”

“I don’t see why naturally it becomes a failure,” Wagner said.

Wagner said he has spoken with other school board members about his proposal “just to give them a heads up.”

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