No timetable for completion of Davidson County high school

Construction will depend on revenues
Jun. 03, 2013 @ 01:04 PM

Last summer, Davidson County Schools completed construction on a state-of-the-art middle school in the northern part of the county.

Discussions for a new high school to accompany Oak Grove Middle School across the road remain a year later, albeit in a slightly less advanced stage than some anticipated. County officials remain in talks regarding the potential construction, and also remain wary of the looming economic consequences of such a project.

"There has been ongoing conversation about building the high school," said Davidson County Commissioner Larry Potts. "To do it without a tax increase, we have to increase our revenues. The future is still too uncertain, so it's a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. We want the high school and are committed to building the high school. At the same time, we don't want to burden our taxpayers with an increase."

The Davidson County Board of Education voted 5-0 Thursday to send a letter to Fred McClure, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, as a formal request to form a building committee. According to their terms of the proposal, two members of both the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners would meet to begin planning for the school.

"If the Board of Education wants to put any of their fund balance toward the project, we look forward to working with them on this," Potts said. "I can’t speak for the Board, but before $55 million is spent, we're going to need some tangible projections of an increase in revenue."

Parents of students in the North Davidson and Ledford communities are anxious for progress to be made to secure a new location to educate their children. Other members of the area, including former educator Jim Scott, are also expectant of swift action by local officials.

Scott said in a letter to the Times, which appeared in the May 29 edition, that he has concerns regarding the delay in construction of Oak Grove High School. A retired educator of the Davidson County Schools system, Scott mentioned he has experienced what it was like to teach in an overcrowded, antiquated facility. He credits county commissioners for their efforts in battling these issues throughout the school system.

"In the 48 years that I have lived in Davidson County, all of those old, outdated buildings have been replaced with new modern buildings of which we all should be proud," Scott said. "County commissioners, Democratic and Republican, have built these school buildings by making education a priority."

He cautions, however, further improvements are necessary to keep up with the ever-growing population.

Plans for construction of the high school were put on hold after the construction of Oak Grove Middle School at the corner of Midway School Road and Hoy Long Road in northern Davidson County. The $26 million project to finish the middle school did not result in a tax increase, but county commissioners like Potts fear that the cost of another school would put a burden on taxpayers.

According to Potts, it will likely cost approximately twice the amount it took to build the middle school and says there is no timetable for completion.

"A valuation of $55 million over 10 years comes to about a 5-cent increase on our tax rate," Potts said. "We've built five elementary and one middle school, probably more than any other county in the state. We're going to have to see what the national economy does before we can move forward. It is still on the front burner."

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.