Panel set to study school’s future

Friday, December 12, 2008 6:02 AM EST
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Three months after Board of Education members decided they did not have enough information to make a decision on replacing or repairing Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School, the school district has convened a new committee to tackle the issue.

A Community Task Force on School Facilities met for about four years before recommending this summer that the school district replace both the middle school and Guilford High School with new buildings.

The majority of the Board of Education appeared to agree with them, and voted in September to move ahead with a town-wide referendum on spending more than $112 million for a new high school. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella is also planning to report to the board soon on immediate health-and-safety improvements at the middle school, including work on ventilation and security.

But board members decided at the same meeting that they did not have enough information on issues like the possible location of a new middle school or what could happen with the existing Church Street building, which dates from 1938. The goal of the new committee will be to address those continuing questions.

Forcella said at a Board of Education meeting this week that the committee is scheduled to complete its work within one year.

“Their task is to meet for one year — actually it’s less than a year now — (and) to come back to the board regarding Adams Middle School and what kinds of things can happen,” he said.

The board’s preliminary plans for replacing the high school — which would require voter approval at a referendum — involve constructing a new building next to the existing school, reducing the amount of student disruption during the construction process. But board members were not sure whether a new middle school could be built near Abraham Baldwin Middle School, or whether students would have to move out of the existing building for the work.

The facilities at both the middle and high schools are aging and have problems with limited space, poor air quality and security. In April, voters approved $2.6 million for a new roof at A.W. Cox School as well as work designed to fix a persistent flooding problem at Adams. The construction took place over the summer and so far the flooding has not recurred.

Forcella said the new committee, which is scheduled to have its first meeting Tuesday, will look at those and other issues. The members include administrators and parents.

“I think it’s a diverse group,” he said.

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