Lincoln considers new middle school at existing site

April 02, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Lincoln County Board of Education and the Facilities Planning Committee listened to a new suggestion Thursday to build a another middle school beside the existing one.

The suggestion was made by planning committee member Paul Long and supported by school board Chairman Jim Kelley.

The buildings could be divided by lottery or by male and female students and house sixth graders from the crowded elementary schools such as Stanford and Hustonville.

"It would be in our best interest to build a facility that would house 500 students. Maybe look into the possibility, the possibility now, of housing male students in a separate building from female students," said Kelley, with emphasis on meeting Title IX guidelines.

Included in Kelley's list of benefits were ready access to gas and sewer lines, no alternate busing routes and a close proximity to high school facilities and activities.


Tough decisions ahead for the committee

This suggestion, Long said, is in a long line of tough decisions ahead for the committee.

"Any decision that any one of us make is going to be difficult. That's just the role of a leadership possession. Somebody's going to be upset."

"We need to be fair to every child of Lincoln County, and every penny we spend needs to benefit the students of Lincoln County," said former assistant school superintendent Larry Lewis, speaking as an audience member.

"It will benefit every child if you come into the center of the population. All the services are here."

A second building at the current location of Kings Mountain Memorial Elementary also was discussed, but the cost of a new building, or refurbishing Kings Mountain into a middle school, could be prohibitive.

The estimated cost of a new building, without a gymnasium, was estimated to be $7 million.

"I very seriously question that we have the funding capacity to do that," said school board member Randy McGuffey.

Committee members also wondered if the current Kings Mountain building could be comparable to the newer middle school building.

"If you're going to have two middle schools, you need to have them as equitable as possible," said school board member David Hacker.

Additionally, planning committee members said they worried that, after 30 years of trying to develop unity between the schools, two middle schools would open the divide again.

The option of expanding the current middle school also was re-examined.

Rock would make addition "cost-ineffective"

Buildings supervisor P.D. Roller said the front of Lincoln County Middle School is built on rock, but the back is built on fill. Roller said if rock was hit during excavation, the price of the addition would become "cost-ineffective."

Should a new building be built next to the current middle school, or that school expanded, Kings Mountain Elementary could be closed.

The next steps to finalizing a plan need to be made soon, said Superintendent Teresa Wallace. The school will not receive state-offered construction assistance funds, based on a facilities plan, if the county has not submitted one. The monetary assistance can be offered to schools statewide in any legislative session.

McKinney Elementary parent Betty England said it is time to reach a consensus that favors the entire district, though she understands where other concerned parents are coming from. England said building a second middle school near the current building is the best solution for her family and the district.

"You have a school in city limits because you have the police station, the emergency services. If something should happen, how long would it take to get there?" said England.

The planning committee will meet again to discuss possible solutions April 12. Members hope they can then submit to the school board another proposal for the long-overdue facilities plan.

The school board will meet next at 7 p.m. April 8.

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