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School board member Ed Price has already suggested a new classroom wing for Northwest, in lieu of the airport area high school. According to Guilford County Schools
Executive Director of Facilities Management Robert Melton, Northwest now has 27 mobile classrooms.
Classroom wings can be added relatively cheaply – at least they are in adjoining counties – although Guilford County Schools
has a tendency to build Rolls Royce buildings at some schools, leaving others with 1973 Ford Pinto facilities.Guilford County Schools
is already backpedalling on the $75 million priority list. Melton said the list will be rewritten to include needed renovations that have come to light. The Facilities Department has had such heavy turnover during the $457 million construction program that it is now headed by Terrence Young, the head of the school system's information technology department, with Melton as second in command.
Young has no construction experience, and the computers on the priorities list may reflect his influence. Melton has extensive construction experience, but came to Guilford County only in 2011 and hasn't even had time to visit all of the county's 124 schools.
The High Point Central parents have been heard. Melton said the Facilities Department is writing a new list. He describes last year's $75 million list as a "working or dynamic document" that will be revised in response to problems that have come to light at High Point Central and elsewhere. He said, "Central will probably be on the list."
Melton said that adding a classroom wing to Northwest would depend on the school board's deciding to change the "program capacity" of Northwest – the enrollment numbers the school board prefers for high schools. The school board has been building 1,200-student high school cores, including cafeterias, auditoriums and libraries, which can be expanded to 1,600 students with added classrooms.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Northwest has 1,889 students. Adding a new classroom wing wouldn't necessarily increase that number, if new classrooms replace mobile ones.
The $937 million figure in the master plan for renovations shows that parents are probably right when they say that renovations to old schools are the school system's most pressing need. Enrollment growth in Guilford County Schools
has slowed to a trickle since the 2008 crash, reducing the need for new schools – a fact that helped kill the airport area high school.