By Beth Cassidy
Tempers flared and accusations were made as the school board once again addressed the issue of a new high school. The board came to life when they reached the agenda topic “Determining the Next Steps to Address DCHS Facility.”
In the end, the vote was 5-2 in favor of taking the next step toward building one new high school.
Paul Drechsler was the first to speak when Chair Barbara Owens asked for comments. Drechsler held pages of questions and information he said he wanted to share and started by asking three of the board members, Owens, Carol Livengood, and Chad Fuller, why they changed their minds and voted against renovating Davie High.
“What do you know now that you didn’t know before to make that switch?” Drechsler asked.
As part of their answers, all three alluded to previous discussions at other meetings, that they felt coerced to vote because county commissioners had threatened to cut funding if they didn’t.
“We started this process in the wrong way,” Fuller said. “It was laid out to us that this is what we had to do, and it was associated with funding our operating budget.”
Livengood said the vote was tied to funding, adding, “It looked like that (renovating) was all we had going for us,” and Owens said the letter the board received from the county in reference to funding being contingent on renovating the school “shocked” her.
Clint Junker interrupted the conversation, saying, “We can sit here and talk about this for hours. We have talked about this for hours. We’ve talked about this for years. I feel like we’re going backwards to have this conversation, because we keep talking about the same stuff,. I’m ready to move forward. This whole meeting has been light and jovial but we get to this one line item and everyone tenses up. We can get to a motion or we can talk about it the rest of the night.”
Fuller, Livengood and Owens also said the vote to renovate was made before the facilities assessment was completed, and having that in hand shows them the issues at the high school are too great to solve with the $6 million that was earmarked.
“We now have the facilities study, and we have a better idea what it would cost to solve the big problems at the high school. There are still geographical and traffic issues that we would not be able to solve (with the $6 million). We put the cart before the horse,” Fuller said ...