Commissioners approve $60,000 to hold, test possible middle school site

District still mum on site’s location

JEFFERSON-After early indications of a pending transaction – and requesting thousands in taxpayer dollars – Ashe County School officials told county commissioners Monday morning they are still not ready to reveal the location for the district’s potential new school.

In fact, Charlie King, chair for the local board of education, said much testing remains to be done before engineers can deem the site suitable for building.

King appeared before commissioners Monday to request $60,000, a figure which includes $15,000 to test the property.

But King told the board the district still won’t disclose the exact location of the proposed site until they are certain it meets their requirements.

The conversation surrounding a new school is an ongoing dialogue.

When ACS first began exploring their options for replacing the aging Warrensville structure, an architect was retained to examine the existing site.

“It turned out it was pretty bad,” King said of the current facility and land. “Looking for land for the middle school has not been easy.”

While searching for land, school officials narrowed their options down by relying on two criteria. For one, at least 20 acres would be needed to incorporate the proposed facility and any room for possible expansion.

They also needed land that could meet the facility’s water and sewer needs. The school system’s continued silence on the location of the site may come as a surprise to some.

According to the commissioners’ agenda packet for the Monday meeting, which was released late last week, the school system had already negotiated a tentative purchase price of $1.6 million.

For a non-refundable sum of $15,000 the current property owner has also agreed to allow the land to be tested to ensure it meets the necessary qualifications to build on.

According to King, school board members C.B. Jones and Lee Beckworth have worked closely with the property owner for a possible purchase. After some discussion, commissioners unanimously approved the school system’s request for $60,000.

The board’s approval did come with a few preliminary questions from commissioners.

Commissioner Gary Roark asked King if the Environmental Protection Agency has been contacted so a “similar situation” doesn’t develop as it did during the building and planning of Westwood Elementary School.

King said school officials are in the process of doing so.

Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.
District still mum on site’s location
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