Laurels: School’s new life on horizon

Published 2:09 am Thursday, December 17, 2020

Laurel to the news that the 2020-2021 school year may not be the last time students can be heard in the halls of Faith Elementary School.

The people behind Faith Academy hope to make a deal to purchase the building from the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, which would otherwise almost certainly demolish the school after its shuttered. Faith Elementary will be a turnkey solution to open the charter school in time for the new year. If they’re interested, it’s likely that some of the school’s existing teachers could keep teaching in the same classrooms, only receiving a paycheck from a different entity.

For the town Faith, the possibility of keeping a school operational in town means a maintained sense of community spirit. There will be a value for parents who live in town or nearby in sending their kids to a school down the street instead of one or two towns away.

For Faith Academy, though, administrators will get a first-hand look at some of the capital issues that the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education says forced its closure vote. In a few years, Faith Academy might be talking about needing to make significant renovations, particularly if it meets goals of attracting several hundred students shortly after opening.

Laurel to the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education for picking Tony Watlington as the next superintendent.

By all accounts, Watlington is a top-notch candidate who will be grounded is his breadth of experience at all levels of the school system — from district-level administration to working as a custodian. He’ll come to a school district about which the public has mixed feelings — some like the idea of renewal and technology as a path toward the future, others think both are the downfall of education and the rest are somewhere in the middle. Time will tell, but there are reasons to be optimistic about Watlington’s tenure and that he will be able to connect with employees at various levels because of his breadth of experience and parents from various backgrounds for the same reason.

Rowan County and Salisbury are still blue-collar communities that take pride in the value of a hard day’s work. Parents and family members reading about Watlington’s hiring should find comfort in some of his first words after being hired. He didn’t just fill the meeting with flowerly statements about how honored he was to be chosen. Watlington made the school board a promise.

“If you look a man or a woman in the eye and you give them your word, that means something,” Watlington told the school board. “It means more than anything you write on a piece of paper. It means more than the world. Your word is your bond, and I promise you that I will be that kind of superintendent working in partnership with this Board of Education and under the leadership of this Board of Education.”

Laurel to people who take a chance on Rowan County and start a business here — folks like Tom Abramowski.

Abramowski, who received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award last week, started Rockwell Farms with a half-acre greenhouse 41 years ago and has since built a business that has 36 acres indoors, 20 acres outdoors and a total size of 147 acres.

The community will be a better place to live if entrepreneurs choose Salisbury and Rowan County to set up shop and if local leaders put in place policies to help them thrive.