Rowan Rural Save Our Schools Gives the School Board an Earful Thursday at West Rowan High

Posted on April 29, 2016

Todd Paris, staff writer

♦ The meeting at West Rowan, despite current School Board Chairman Josh Wagner’s statement in the paper about what we could and could not talk about, was well attended by Rowan Rural Save Our Schools (RRSOS). Wagner’s directive was largely ignored, though most RRSOS speakers worked in challenges with the proposed West consolidation. The meeting was well attended despite the forecast of heavy thunderstorms and torrential rains. The auditorium at West incredibly large, yet we more than halfway filled it. Channel 9 was present. While I can’t begin to mention everyone who showed–East BoE Candidate Mike Julian gave a rousing talk for three minutes, mentioning the hazmat fire at the natural gas plant next door to the new “West Consolidated” site and was called down by Chairman Josh Wagner (Freedom of speech–Wot’s Dot?) for saying he was running for office. Southeast candidate Poston sent word he couldn’t attend because he was scheduled to referee or announce a children’s sporting event. The kids are a priority with our Southeast candidate Poston.

County Commissioner Craig Pierce was there as well as commission candidate Valeria Levy.

The BoE was clearly taken to task for wanting to plop the consolidated Western Elementary in a dangerous location and for hiring a group like sfl+a, who rakes in huge money from building schools and helping to decide if a system is overcapacity and needs more schools. Hmmm. When you call the plumber and ask him or her if you need a plumber–what answer might you expect?

All speakers were magnificent and in response the board provided no real information except that Travis Allen took partial responsibility for placing an elementary school next to one of the most dangerous industrial facilities in Rowan County.  When the facility exploded and caught fire last week, the VFD’s lacked the equipment to put into action and had to call in the “foam truck” from the National Guard at the Airport. Thank goodness the foam truck was there or facility could’ve put Rowan on the map as a hazmat disaster.

Chris Cohen gave a rousing and cogent history of bad BoE decisions (lots of em’), the dangers of the consolidated site, and was applauded numerous times. He mentioned all the folks who make oodles of money off of this BoE’s construction are all from out of town and do nothing to help the local community. He ran over his three minutes and Wagner, with a mere hand gesture summoned a deputy to either arrest him or make him leave. Cohen, stopping just a few yards from being grabbed, left with a thunderous ovation.

Most telling tonight was the testimony of some far western Rowan parents who much like the far eastern students at Morgan have kids already experiencing more than an hour’s bus ride. Earlier in the night, sfl+a’s representative announced that no student would have to spend more than 15 minutes (yeah right) on the bus. That statement was met with cat-calls, laughter, and derision.

I had many more questions than three minutes would allow and handed them to Josh Wagner and the media present. We’ll repost them in the RFP later today. Oh here they are now:

The BoE ended this night passing the microphone back and forth answering basically nothing. When the microphone was handed to Chuck Hughes, he did his best “Don Rickles” impression and said, “I want to know where you were a year ago when we were working on this?” The crowd answered in one voice, “Working.”  Calling meetings when they don’t want working people to attend is so typical of the BoE.  They don’t need taxpayer and parent input.  BoE knows better.

It is quite clear that those warming seats on this BoE are all lame ducks within the next few years and realize it.  The real harm? Rowan’s voters generally always approved school bonds by large margins. When the present school bond is paid off in 2017, voters will be unlikely to vote to give this BoE any more money which they can use to do questionable things to harm their children and property values.

Photo Gallery from Last Evening at West Rowan High School:

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