Guilford urged to replace school buildings

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Aug. 13, 2008

GUILFORD — A task force is recommending that the school district replace Guilford High School and Adams Middle School with new buildings.

Members of the Community Task Force on School Facilities, which has been meeting for about four years, told the Board of Education Monday night they have concluded that the most fiscally sound method for solving facilities problems at the two schools is to replace them.

But the task force is proposing that the board move ahead only with plans for the new high school and pressing health and safety improvements at the middle school. The board should also establish a Middle School Building Committee to address further questions for moving that school, members of the task force said.

Board members said that they hope to make a decision at the group’s next meeting Sept. 8, and to put a referendum before voters next spring.

In February, the task force presented the board with several options that put the price of a new high school at $112 million, and of a new middle school at $69.8 million, assuming work began in 2012.

For a house with an assessed value of $300,000, the presenters said at the time, those figures would translate into $426 for the middle school work in the 2012-13 fiscal year. The new high school could increase taxes by $687 for a homeowner with a $300,000 house.

But task force co-chairwoman Mary Jo Kestner said that the numbers will most likely be revised.

Co-chairman Mauro Rubbo told the board and an audience of about 30 people that the middle school and high school “are inadequate and … in need of immediate attention.”

Both schools are decades-old, and have been expanded periodically as needs arose. They have problems with configuration, size, ventilation and security, officials say.

“We feel that the best long-term solution for the district is to build two new schools,” Rubbo said.

Rubbo and Kestner said that the task force has found the best proposal is to build a new high school next to the current building on New England Road, and to move Adams Middle School to a new site near Abraham Baldwin Middle School on Bullard Drive.

While the district proceeds with work on the new high school, they said, the goal of the Middle School Building Committee would be to resolve outstanding questions such as the configuration of the Baldwin/Adams campus and the future use of the current Adams building.

In the meantime, the task force is recommending that the Board of Education move ahead with work on ventilation, drainage and safety issues at the current school.

“Whatever we do, it’s three to five years before we start a construction project at the high school, and then Adams would come after that,” Rubbo said. “So you’re going to be in that building for a few years.”

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said at Monday’s meeting that he agrees with the task force’s recommendation to build two new schools.

The school board, which has not yet made a decision, will continue discussion on the facilities issue Aug. 25. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Emergency Services Meeting Room in the fire department.

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