School system holds meetings on bonds 

School system holds meetings on bonds 
February 25
00:00 2016
Above: Superintendent Beverly Emory speaks.

Some leaders are asking for a new East Winston middle school

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools held the first in a series of bond meetings Thursday night, Feb. 18, at Carver High School.

The proposed school bond is more than $325 million and is estimated to increase the county property tax by 3.45 cents or $51.75 a year on a home worth $150,000. Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory gave the overview of the proposed bond projects.

“It’s been ten year since we’ve had a bond issued,” she said.  “Our district has grown over that period of time and … the facilities have aged.”

During public comments, several speakers thought that there was something missing from the already long list of bond projects: a new middle school in East Winston.

Shai Woodbury, a former school board candidate, wanted a new “traditional middle school” built in East Winston. She felt that without it, the bond’s resources aren’t being evenly distributed.

Local NAACP President Isaac “Ike” Howard had the same request. He lamented the long bus rides students took to schools outside of their community. He said East Winston doesn’t have a middle school, dismissing middle schools in the area like Mineral Springs Middle School, which has an arts-based magnet program, and Winston-Salem Prep Academy, which houses a residential middle school.

“For numbers of attendance, it’s not,” he said about WSPA, which has relatively low enrollment.

Donald Dunn, a past state PTA President who serves on the national PTA board, also voiced concerns about what he said was the lack of a traditional middle school in East Winston. He said they’d like to see a school that makes the community more vibrant.

“It would also give those kids an opportunity to reattach to their roots,” said Dunn.

The proposed bond projects include replacement schools for Brunson Elementary, Lowrance Middle and Paisley IB Magnet schools, and a partial replacement to increase capacity at Konnoak Elementary. The bond includes new middleschools on Robinhood Road and Smith Farm to relieve overcrowding at middle schools in those areas. There’s also a new eastern elementary school and a Pre-Kindergarten Center in the bond.

The bond also includes additions to increase capacity at Easton Elementary, Griffith Elementary, Ward Elementary and Wiley Magnet Middle. There are also renovations at East Forsyth High, John F. Kennedy High, North Forsyth High and Philo-Hill Magnet. Safety improvements would be made to the Mount Tabor and Glenn Stadiums. Security cameras would be updated to meet district standards for all schools, and all middle schools would get  entry access controls. There would also be student safety and transportation improvements at Wiley and Southeast middle schools, Reynolds and Parkland high schools and Meadowlark elementary and middle schools.

The bond also includes new technology for 1,840 classrooms and refreshes technology in 1,860 classes that already have it.  It includes new furniture and a 3D printer for each media center. Maintenance funds also are included to replace component systems in 35 schools.

After the public comments, Emory said that the proposed construction areas of the new schools were based on where there’s overcrowding and projected growth. She said both Mineral Springs and WSPA actually have unused capacity because parents are choosing to send their children elsewhere. Parents at WSPA expressed frustration at a meeting held on this issue last year, that more parents weren’t sending their children to WSPA, which has also a college preparatory magnet high school program that at times has had the highest graduation rate in the county.

“For me, it’s more about are there programmatic or changes we need to make in those school environments that would make it more attractive or appealing?” she said.

A potential idea the school system held meetings on last year to move the high school portion of WSPA to the campus of Winston-Salem State University and move Hanes Middle students into WSPA is not part of the bond. The potential move is doubtful, but other types of partnerships between WSSU and Prep may happen in the future, she said. After toxicity concerns, Hanes moved to the former Hill Middle School last year. Another move or a new school for Hanes is not in the bond.

During the public comments, Frankie Santoro, who’s been a teacher at Southeast Middle School for the last seven years, told school officials he supported building the new Smith Farm middle school, which would relieve overcrowding at his school. Southeast was built for 750 students but currently has 1,164 students, he said. Since student achievement is directly related to class size, he urged school officials to make sure the middle school becomes a reality.

“Please, please push for that,” he said.

Comment meetings, which have been lightly attended so far, will continue in March. The school board will vote on the bond in April and present it to county commissioners in May or June for approval to go on the ballot in November.

Future School Bond Meetings

Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. – West Forsyth High School, 1735 Lewisville-Clemmons Road, Clemmons

Monday, March 7 at 7 p.m. – North Forsyth High School, 5705 Shattalon Drive

Thursday, March 10 at noon – The Downtown School, 601 N. Cherry Street

Monday, March 14 at 7 p.m. – Speas Elementary School, 2000 W. Polo Road

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