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Given the preeminence of basketball in North Carolina, the surprising thing about the meeting was that many, possibly a majority, of the questions were not about the gym at all. Numerous parents and teachers called for the school board to expand and repair High Point
resident Pam Greene told the school board members that many High Point
Central parents want to jettison The Academy at Central to provide more space. The academy is in the Tomlinson building, the former Tomlinson Elementary School. Greene said that some students have free periods because there is no space for them to have classes.
"I think we have bigger issues that we need to address," Greene said. "I think our biggest issue is space. Our school can use much more space. All our teachers rotate in their classrooms."
Ann Byerly, who has taught at High Point
Central for 20 years, said that ninth graders need more time before being integrated into the high school, and that Central needs a freshman academy. High Point
Central used to have one, but former Superintendent Terry Grier changed it into The Academy at Central, a whole different school, to take the lowest-performing Central students so that their test scores and suspension statistics wouldn't affect High Point
Central. Grier did it over the objection of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the principal of High Point
"A freshman academy is what we need here again," Byerly said. "The freshman academy, when we had it here, was fabulous. When the kids were at the ninth grade academy in the old Tomlinson building, things went much more smoothly."
The school board is holding hearings on Nov. 5 at Page High School and Nov. 28 at Southwest High School, both at 7 p.m., to take public input on whether or not to continue to attempt to build its ill-fated "airport area high school" – a high school no one really wants and for which the school board hasn't been able to find land, or to spend that money fixing and expanding other schools.
If the school board doesn't build the airport area high school, it will have $70 million left over it could use to expand and repair older schools like High Point
Central. Actually, it will have more than that, as it will have leftover money from many of the 27 projects that were on the project list for the 2008 school bonds – perhaps $140 million or more, although Duncan declined, when asked, to give an estimate of the size of the money pile the school board will have left over. At the school board's Sept. 22 retreat, he called it "a pretty significant amount."
That's if the Guilford County Board of Commissioners votes to sell the bonds intended for the airport area high school. Commissioners Bill Bencini and Bruce Davis attended the High Point
At the retreat, Facilities Department administrators gave the school board a 29-project priority list to upgrade, repair and equip schools to a common baseline that would cost $75 million, just a little more than the amount budgeted for the high school. High Point
Central was not on the list.
The school board has already voted to spend $22.5 in leftover money.
"I would caution the public against looking at whatever is left of the $457 million that was approved by voters in 2008 as sort of residual money to be used where we want," said school board member Daniels. "The idea that we did good stewardship and came in under budget does not necessarily mean that the rest of that money will be available for use."
It's hard to imagine angry supporters of individual schools, many of whom have waited years for repairs, making the same argument at the upcoming hearings.