Commissioners favor school repairs

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 07:32 PM

Commissioners and county educators seemed to agree Thursday that the $75 million the county would have paid for a new high school should be used for school renovations.

The Guilford County Board of Education voted 8-3 Tuesday to neither buy land nor to build a proposed $72 million high school near Piedmont Triad International Airport. The project package that also included land for a middle school totals $75 million.
Republican Commissioner Bill Bencini and Democratic Commissioner Bruce Davis, both of High Point, were outspoken for renovations for crowded High Point Central High School during a county government retreat. The school is one of the oldest in the county.
“It is disheartening to look a the new schools and then the older ones that need repairs,” Davis said.
“High Point Central needs a lot of work for the whole school,” Bencini said. “I hope some of the old schools will be considered for repairs with this money.”
The Citizens for Central group, which has lobbied the school board for months, wants a $40 million renovation. Parents at other schools also have voiced needs the $75 million could pay for. Superintendent Mo Green said his staff could have a revised renovations
list ready in about two months.
“It is just too early to say now which schools would be on the list,” Green said.
“We want to be thorough and fair with this,” said Board of Education Chairman Alan Duncan. “We know some schools still have too many mobile units.  We will look at all these things and taking care of existing facilities.”
The Central group wants major cafeteria and media center renovations to reduce crowding.
The new school was intended to relieve crowding at Northwest High, which has 27 mobile classrooms, Western and Southwest high schools. Enrollment growth slowed during the recession, however.
“We now know that the likelihood of growth in that area is much less now,” Duncan said, “because the airport added land and expanded the noise cone restrictions.  It also was hard to find suitable land for a school.”
Meanwhile, enrollments continue to grow at Central. More than 1,600 students could be on campus in 10 years.
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