Laurels: County wise to include $55 million for K-8 in budget

Published 12:10 am Saturday, May 29, 2021

Laurel to Rowan County Manager Aaron Church and staff members for including money in the proposed budget to fund the construction of a Knox-Overton K-8 school.

The facility would be a long-overdue solution to problems with the condition of the building. After she voted for an initial plan that would have only renovated Knox (before support consolidated around the K-8 building), school board member Alisha Byrd-Clark made an argument that will ring true into eternity.

“You want kids and parents to feel good about themselves on a daily basis, not only being there for educational purposes. … When you walk in and it looks kind of dilapidated, it tends to lower self-esteem and confidence,” Byrd-Clark told the Post. “So, this right here lets students, teachers and parents in our district know that we care and that we’re trying to change the way that Knox looks.”

Officially, the county’s proposed budget includes $55 million in new debt that can be used for any purpose — something Church noted when talking to reporter Ben Stansell for a story published Thursday (“County budget’s revenues, expenses likely going up”). But the total is a little more than what projections had been for the building. That increase could account for inflation since the estimates were first provided to the school board.

A world-class K-8 school for a district re-imagining education through its renewal status will help the entire community move boldly into the future. County commissioners devote a good deal of their time to economic development, which can’t happen without a strong education system. That includes high-quality facilities.

Now, all we need is a name.

Laurel to more summer school after a year when learning was more difficult for many students.

While a number of components of daily programming are required by the state, it’s good that school systems like Rowan-Salisbury are boosting their offerings so that students who struggled during an abnormal year can catch up. For students who excel after teachers work through problems in person, learning in front of a computer screen brought challenges.

At last count, there were more than 950 elementary students enrolled in math summer school and 1,119 enrolled in English. At the high school level, there are 125 students in math and 105 in English. Summer learning camps are normally only for students in first through third grade, but it’s open to all grade levels this year.

Federal COVID-19 relief funding will pay for the expansion in offerings.

After summer school, the next challenge will come in the 2021-2022 year, when teachers will work to catch up students who struggled or checked out of learning during the pandemic and did not participate in summer school.

Laurel to North Carolina’s continued progress in kicking COVID-19 to the curb.

New positives have been on a consistent downward trend in the previous month. On Tuesday, there were just 525 new positives reported in the entire state — a number that wouldn’t have been shocking to see for one county in December or January. Deaths and hospitalizations have also slowed. The hospital region that contains Rowan County reported 159 people hospitalized last week. It was 10 times that at the peak in January.

The public knows, or should know, the way to keep progress going: vaccinations.

The weather is also warm, gathering restrictions are lifted and people are getting back outside. That’s good for beating COVID-19.

When fall and winter come back around and people head back indoors, a spike could be in store if we forget about vaccinations and precautions we’ve used to date.

Even if you’ve had COVID-19, it’s best to get vaccinated.