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Curriculum standards, building plans, and a new principal at Rowan-Salisbury board meeting

Rowan-Salisbury Schools presented their fundamental standards for all grade levels in math and language arts at the school board meeting on Sept. 9. 

Following passage of House Bill 986 last summer, Rowan-Salisbury schools are part of a renewal district. That designation gives the entire district the kind of flexibility — financial, curriculum, and personnel — usually enjoyed only by charter schools. Since it was established as a renewal system, the district has identified three main components of its directional system: academic skills, interpersonal skills, and unique life goals.

The academic skills portion projects that the Rowan-Salisbury learner will master fundamental standards in English, math, science, and social studies while analyzing and solving real-life problems. 

Teacher-led design teams, using the N.C. Standard Course of Study, identified which standards are fundamental and which are supporting, or nice to know. Teachers will focus on mastery of those standards that are fundamental and may expose students to supporting skills, but not require mastery. All students are expected to master fundamental skills prior to graduation.

Teachers have access via software to curriculum resources for every fundamental standard, K-12, including problem-based learning, videos, and lesson plans. The software allows teachers to add feedback, cite additional resources, or request additional resources. 

Teacher-led design teams continue to work to identify fundamental standards for science and social studies. They should be released later this year. 

In other business, architecture firm LS3P returned yet again to discuss options for Knox Middle School, built in 1958. The campus has seven separate buildings connected by covered, open-air walkways. The school is in poor condition, with a facility condition assessment of 3. Facility condition assessments rank buildings on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst condition and 10 representing new buildings.

This was the fourth LS3P visit to the school board since February. Architects presented options requested in the last August meeting, including estimates of rehabbing the main three buildings and building a new classroom to replace the three rear buildings. They placed the new building on the northwest edge of the campus to plan for a future K-8 merging Knox with Overton Elementary School, which lies to the west. They also provided pricing for new athletic facilities and new furniture for the entire school. 

After much discussion, the board voted to authorize Assistant Superintendent for Operations Anthony Vann to pursue bids to rehab the main three buildings, to demolish the rear three buildings, and build a new two-story building for classrooms in their place, not to exceed $26 million. The measure includes all new furniture but not a new gym. The motion passed 4 to 3, with board members Jean Kennedy, Dean Hunter, Alysha Byrd Clark, and Travis Allen voting aye. Members Kevin Jones, Susan Cox, and board chair Josh Wagner voted against the measure. Jones later stated he voted against the measure only because the final design was hastily pulled together during the meeting, and he would prefer a more thought-out estimate.

District Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody introduced a new principal for Bostian Elementary School, Cory Stirewalt. A large number of Bostian parents and faculty attended in school shirts in support of Stirewalt. 

Maggie Blackwell

Maggie Blackwell is a freelance writer and former City Councilwoman in Salisbury, North Carolina. She started writing on her Tom Thumb typewriter at age eight and now spends her retirement playing with her grandchildren.