Prudence Pill? Davie High Decision Awaits

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

The honeymoon for new Davie County Schools superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness lasted two weeks, maybe three. The moving van hadn’t delivered his family’s possessions from Mt. Airy before his first encounter with the Davie County Board of Commissioners.
The commission put it bluntly: Fix the existing campus of Davie High or face a cut in operational funding. In other words, if the school system refuses a $6 million gift for construction, there will be a price to pay.
There was a gentler time when we gave the superintendent a chance to settle in before telling him what to do.
These are not gentle times. The school board’s dream for more than a decade has been to build a new high school campus. Voters have had other dreams, soundly defeating two referenda. The county board, with different players, convinced the school board to simply borrow $30 million without a public vote and move the high school to Farmington Road. With grading equipment already assembled on the site, a state agency refused to lend the money.
Once again the commissioners are overstepping their authority to force the school board’s hand, but that is their nature.
Taking the $6 million will end the school board’s dream of a new campus. Likewise, it will frustrate eastern Davie residents’ hopes of moving the campus closer to the center of the county. But these are difficult times. A national recession lingers much longer than any hard times that most of us have experienced. Unemployment is in the double digits. Property values are dropping.
For a decade, the single issue driving county politics has been the high school.
The recession has changed every calculation. The housing industry has been hit hard. Schools aren’t growing at the old rates. The state government has considered increasing the number of students in a classroom.
Prudence seems to dictate that the school board will take the $6 million and build the necessary classrooms to finally replace those ugly mobile units surrounding the …