Wake County school leaders say they don’t want to continue putting money into the aging Rolesville Elementary School gymnasium.
The school board is expected to discuss options for the gym’s future at a work session Tuesday. Board members might instruct staff to demolish the gym, renovate it or give it back to the town of Rolesville.
At a recent meeting of the school board’s facilities committee, members seemed to favor handing the gym over to town leaders. In that case, the school system would spend about $18 million to renovate the campus, including building a new multipurpose space to replace the gym.
If the town doesn’t agree to the plan, the most likely option would be to demolish the gym, school board members said.
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“No matter how much we want to, we can’t afford to maintain ... a space just for Rolesville on the Wake County taxpayer’s dime,” said board member Jim Martin.
Tom Benton, also a board member, said the school system is not in the business of historic preservation and shouldn’t expect residents to pay for continual upgrades the space needs.
The Rolesville Elementary gym was built 50 years ago by community members. Initially, it served as a space for town meetings and other large gatherings. Now, the town’s parks and recreation department uses the gym for its youth basketball program in the winter.
Benton said it’s worth it to try to work with town leaders to keep the gym standing.
“We’re going to have significant resistance from the town and community,” he said. “These types of things are very important in small towns.”
At a recent meeting, members of the Rolesville Board of Commissioners said they wanted the school system to maintain the building for continued use by the school and town.
Mayor Frank Eagles said he doesn’t like the idea of demolishing the gym and replacing it with a multipurpose space.
“If it’s already there, why tear it down?” Eagles asked. “A multipurpose room is inferior to a gym.”
School leaders have said the space would include classrooms, which they say are needed to serve students. Many other elementary schools in Wake have multipurpose spaces.
Town leaders realize it’s costly to maintain the old building, Eagles said.
In 2002, the school system spent millions of dollars to improve the air conditioning unit and roof at the facility.