Ruth Little: Renovate old schools

March 1, 2013 

Renovate old schools

The struggle over who will manage public school property in Wake County seems less important than whether taxpayer money that renovates old schools and builds new ones is wisely spent. The bricks and mortar matter less than the spirit, the quality of the staff and parental and community support.

Consider the success of the Central Park School for Children, housed in the old Marine Corps Reserve Center in Durham, or the Adult Education Center of Wake Tech, operating in an old car dealership on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh.

I watched with dismay some years ago when two perfectly sound mid-20th century schools on Ridge Road in Raleigh – Lacy Elementary and Martin Middle – were bulldozed and replaced with spanking-new buildings. The money that might have been saved by renovating and expanding the original buildings might have provided prekindergarten education for at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds.

Why can’t the public school bureaucracy be as nimble and creative as the school systems not receiving public money? Why not reuse vacant big box stores with existing huge parking lots as new school campuses rather than insisting on new construction?

Ruth Little

Raleigh

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