Our View: Officials tackle schools needs

Jan. 13, 2013 @ 01:09 AM

The Guilford County Board of Education and Guilford County Commissioners made positive moves for schools, students and taxpayers across the county last week. School leaders canceled a $75 million plan for a new high school in the western part of the county, and commissioners agreed that the money should, instead, be spent for school renovations and additions.
The school board’s decision, coming in an 8-3 vote, ended efforts to locate a site for a new high school that would have been generally northwest of Piedmont Triad International Airport. School officials had been having a tough time finding a suitable location. Additionally, there had been no groundswell of support from the public for building such a school.
For nearly a year, members of the public, including many from the High Point area, had voiced strong support for funding renovation and expansion projects instead of building the proposed new school. Last July, the Enterprise suggested that school officials should consider earmarking the money for renovations. In the end, the people’s voices were heard.
Guilford Schools administrators now will set about developing a priority list of projects that could benefit from the funds, which remain available from a school bond issue approved by voters in 2008. Guilford Schools Superintendent Mo Green estimated that list would be ready in about two months.
High Point Central High School students, administrators, parents and supporters have been advocating for many months funding improvements that are needed at that historic facility. They’ve especially noted needs for expanding the school cafeteria’s seating capacity and enlarging space for the media center. The cafeteria seats 150 in a school with more than 1,400 students. The media center won’t accommodate an entire class of students in most cases.
Supporters of Central plan to present soon to school officials a detailed case for funding renovations and additions at the school, which was built during the 1920s and features a distinctive design and architecture. And we think that group, Citizens for Central, can make a good case.
However, it’s been documented recently — and reported last week by the Enterprise — that there are plenty of needs throughout Guilford County Schools in addition to those at Central. That’s where the really hard decisions arise for school and county government leaders. The $75 million will fund a significant amount of renovations and additions, but it pales in comparison to the estimated more than $1 billion in needs. But certainly tackling those projects with this money instead of building that new school was the proper decision.