The Transylvania Times -

By Lenora Carver
Staff Writer" 

Board: School Consolidation Is Not Feasible

 

March 8, 2011



The Board of Education says consolidation of Rosman and Brevard high schools is "impossible" at this time.

During its recent annual retreat, school board members discussed what it would mean financially and structurally to consolidate the county's two high schools.

"In order for us to consolidate, Brevard High School could not accommodate all the students," said Board member Sheila Norman. "I know we are not considering it, but the only way we would be able to do this is that we would have to build a new facility."

Norris Barger, director of business services, agreed the Brevard High School campus would be unable to hold the amount of students currently enrolled in both schools.

He said the school would have to undergo major renovations, and even if they could afford this, it would still mean a two-hour bus ride for some students who live in the Whitewater area. He said the only other option was to build a new school to hold all the students and that would be located between the two schools.

"It would cost around $50 million for a roughly 1,000 student high school," said Barger. "And you're talking about $25 million to renovate."

Superintendent Jeff McDaris said the cost of a new building was based on similar projects that were occurring around the state. McDaris added these projects were also being built on cheaper land than what could be found in Transylvania County.

"Even in the bad real estate market, you are still talking about a lot of money," said board member Cindy Pettit, who is also a real estate agent.

McDaris added there is also not a lot of cheap land in Transylvania County that is out of the floodplain, can be built upon and has access to water and sewer.

Renovations to the Brevard High campus, McDaris said, would require a second story on the current building, while parking, which is currently tight, would still be an issue. A consolidated high school, he said, would still need the same amount, if not more, teachers and the same number of administrators since the state still requires a certain amount of teachers and administrators with larger schools.

Plus, there would have to be a brand new school name, which would mean brand new band uniforms that cost around $300 each.

McCoy said that besides the cost, they had to consider the quality of education. She said even though enrollment numbers have decreased over the years neither school could absorb each other at this point.

McDaris agreed.

He said 20 years ago Brevard High School housed more than 1,000 students, but since that time, they have lost 22 classrooms to computer labs, a library, guidance and counseling, and special education.

Petit said school consolidation didn't seem possible.

"Realistically, even if we wanted to, the money is not there," she said. "They can talk consolidation, but the money is not there."

Districting

Recent weather issues and school cancellations led the board to also talk about districting.

Because there can be sun in Brevard and snow on the mountain, people want to know why we can't go to districting, said McDaris.

Districting would allow the school system to consolidate schools into groups.

McDaris said almost every time it snowed there were be unsafe roads all over the county, from Cedar Mountain to East Fork to Brevard, that would be dangerous for transporting children or requiring staff to drive.

He said it was impossible to separate the school system into districts based on driving or weather conditions.

McCoy said she lived in Brevard and her road was unsafe for several days while other Brevard roads were in good condition.

"We have a lot of staff on both ends of the county and we have an open enrollment," added McDaris.

Open enrollment allows a parent to enroll a child at any school in the county regardless of where they reside.

"So we have a lot of kids traveling and a lot of staff," said McDaris.

McDaris said while he understands it is frustrating for those who live in town or on N.C. 280, he said there are areas where people were just unable to travel safely, and he did not want to jeopardize lives.

He added it was almost impossible to have districting and open enrollment. Currently more than 100 students, and it could be as high as 400, who advantage of open enrollment.

He said it was hard to determine the exact number of students who use open enrollment since schools only report incoming students that take advantage of the policy.

Whitmire agreed that districting did not lend itself to the current school situation.

McDaris said that it would be something they would keep considering while continuing to explore other possibilities like bus zone pick-up areas where students could meet their buses.

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017