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Editorial: Funding should prompt decisions

Money has been promised, ideas were first floated years ago, and it seems the Rowan-Salisbury school system could finally be on a path to making some decisions about consolidation, especially if it’s successful in a state grant application.

On Monday, the school board voted to proceed with a grant application through the state superintendent’s office that could produce $10 million in capital funding.

That funding would be required for use in new construction. So, the Rowan-Salisbury school board chose a consolidated South Rowan Elementary School as the destination.

With West Rowan Elementary’s construction costing more than $27 million, receiving the maximum amount of funding would go a long way toward building a new school. Even $5 million would be a welcome addition to what county commissioners allocate.

So far, commissioners have promised $15 million in the current fiscal year and $60 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

That means there’s money for other projects after building a South Rowan Elementary School.

Knox Middle School’s need for renovation has been discussed often. And school board members are currently weighing various options, which could include replacing Knox Middle and Overton Elementary.

Whatever the final design, Knox may be another destination for funding.

And after making a passionate argument for Faith Elementary School’s closure, creating angst among parents and then backing off, the school board could choose a combined East Rowan Elementary School as another worthwhile destination for funding.

The school board should know the answer to its state grant application this fall. Once it has a commitment of funding in hand or lack thereof, it should immediately proceed with decisions about where to consolidate and build anew.

Rowan County is primed for growth, but continuing to maintain aging schools as we collectively wait for that to happen is not a responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Soon, the Rowan-Salisbury school system will have the funding it’s waited for. Next, it will need to provide the public with decisions it has so far failed to make.

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