Letter to the editor: Build the school
I am a retired educator from the Davidson County School System. When I came to Davidson County in 1965 the school system had many old wooden and brick buildings that were outdated and were difficult to maintain. The gym at Tyro Elementary School, where I started my career, was an old converted two story building that was poorly heated and had a rough plank floor. I never felt safe in that building when the wind was blowing. In the 48 years that I have lived in Davidson County, all of those old outdated buildings have been replaced with new modern buildings of which we all should be proud. County Commissioners, Democratic and Republican, have built these school buildings by making education a priority.
In recent years, the population growth in the northern end of the county has steadily increased and so has the need for new school facilities. New elementary schools have been built and Oak Grove Middle, which was completed last year, is now relieving overcrowding at North Davidson Middle School and Ledford Middle School. I commend our elected officials for the job they have done in the past by consistently balancing the budget and keeping our tax rate low while making education a priority.
Today I am concerned that the public schools in Davidson County do not appear to be an important issue in the budget that is being prepared by our current Davidson County Board of Commissioners. North Davidson High School, a school that was originally built for approximately 700 students, has expanded to an enrollment of more than 1,500 students. Ledford High School, which was originally built for a similar number of students, now has an enrollment of over 1,200. North Davidson now houses more students than the Lexington and Thomasville High Schools combined. Overcrowding must be addressed at these two schools because it affects learning and limits opportunities in athletics and extra curricular activities. One only needs to try to walk in the halls during class change or to try to eat lunch quickly to make room for the other 1,500 students to realize the anxiety that many students must feel.
I understand that priorities must be established in every budget and all are important. I would not argue that jail space is needed and that Davidson County Community College has needs. I also have followed the controversy over the establishment of a large industrial park in Davidson County. This may have merit but, as in the movie “Field Of Dreams”, the thinking seems to be if we build it they will come. As our commissioners prepare their budget they should realize that if they build a new high school in the northern end of the county they will not be guessing if students will show up. They are already there!
I encourage the commissioners to make the new high school at Oak Grove their first priority. I also remind them that a large majority of the tax revenue that they are appropriating comes from the northern end of the county.
I encourage parents, grandparents and everyone in the Ledford and North Davidson area who are interested in maintaining the quality of our schools to contact our commissioners and express their desire that they make the Oak Grove High School a priority in this year’s budget.