Citizens bring up school facilities

The Mecklenburg County School Board met for an extensive meeting on Monday night, speaking briefly on a variety of topics and tabling two agenda items regarding the division’s dress code and discussion on new school facilities.

Recently, the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors resolved to allot $100 million to fund construction of a single, consolidated middle/high school complex, even though the school board had previously voted for two separate secondary school facilities to serve both ends of the county.

While the school board did not discuss this matter on Monday night, a handful of citizens attended and spoke about the topic.

Laurie Wright of Blackridge spoke in favor of two upper school complexes, saying children struggling in reading and math such as students in Mecklenburg would be better educated in a smaller facility. She agreed that Bluestone should be “moved out of the woods” and further noted that placing one consolidated school in the county somewhere between Park View and Bluestone would be putting all the children “in the woods.”

Wright also said having a school located within a town or in close proximity to one, as Park View currently is to the town of South Hill, is a great benefit to the town. She said if the new Bluestone complex were to be located near Chase City or Clarksville, then those towns would be able to know and reap those benefits.

Another citizen, Lois Marshall of Nelson, who identified herself as a retired educator, spoke against two upper school complexes and in favor of one complex located on “land in the county” between the current Bluestone and Park View locations.

She addressed a complaint of the opposing side, in which many people have said the commute time would be too great with only one school. Marshall said that currently, Park View and Bluestone are about 20 minutes apart. Building a school exactly between the two would only add a 10-minute commute time to either side. She also said that the county could petition to have an “access road” built to the school, which would further cut down on distance traveled.

She also said that the number of surveys the board took into account when making its decision was too small of a sample size.

Gloria Smith, who also identified herself as a retired educator, spoke on Monday as well, saying she is in favor of one consolidated upper school complex. She said she hopes saving money by building one complex would afford the county the opportunity to build things like a new track or a pool. She said when her children were young, she had to drive them all the way across the county to take swimming lessons, and having a pool at the school would be beneficial in teaching children how to swim.

A gentleman who was identified as Mr. Yancey spoke in favor one school, saying that people who have been opting for two schools have been selfish. He also said he had collected signatures of 96 people in District 1 who are in favor of a consolidated upper school, and he predicted he would have no trouble gathering many more.

Later in the meeting, board member Brent Richey, who voted in favor of two schools, noted he is the representative of District 1 and did not appreciate the “veiled threat.”

Finally, citizen Scott Pulley spoke, questioning the consultants of an architectural study completed over the summer and their projected numbers of what the school construction and/or renovation options would cost.

He also referenced a comment made at last month’s meeting when a school board member said parents and citizens were getting in the way and interfering with the decision of which option to go with. He then quoted from the Mecklenburg County Public Schools Vision statement, which reads, “Build a model, 21st century learning organization that cultivates thoughtful, engaged citizens to contribute to the prosperity of the County, Commonwealth, nation and world.”