Fate of Woodlawn School still unclear

By Allen Worrell Editor

October 22, 2013

The ultimate fate of what to do with Woodlawn School will linger on until December.

Two members of the Carroll County School Board voted against transferring Woodlawn School over to the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, but a motion to that effect did pass by a 3-2 vote during an Oct. 8 meeting.

The Carroll County Board of Supervisors were to vote on a resolution to accept the transfer of the property from the Carroll County School Board on Monday night, but delayed that vote until December after hearing about the school board’s reluctance to transfer the property.

“It appears at least two school board members were not in favor of returning it back to Carroll County,” Supervisors’ Chairman David Hutchins said. “There was some concerns, and I would like for us to pull that out and relook at it in December.”

Fancy Gap District Supervisor Phil McCraw said Joey Haynes, the school board member from his district, visited him Saturday at his place of business.

“We talked a little bit about it and he seemed to be concerned that he felt like they were really going to need the property,” McCraw said. “And today around lunch, I had another one of my constituents in my place of business who also said Mr. Haynes had been by his house and told him basically the same thing. Maybe we need to put it back over there and let them get that ironed out and be sure everybody is on the same page. “

Later in the meeting, Supervisor Sam Dickson expressed frustration over the school board’s hesitance to transfer the property.

“I am glad we are still going to decide what to do with (the property). I was a little disappointed two of the school board members wanted to keep the land,” Dickson said. “I don’t know why they decided to close the school if they wanted to keep it…If they still want it, we need to know so they can go ahead and start doing whatever they want to do with it. It needs to be discussed and decided before long what to do with it because we don’t want to just let it sit.”

Hutchins said Woodlawn School presents both unique opportunities and challenges, particularly the upkeep of the building.

During the Carroll County School Board’s October meeting, a resolution to declare the recently closed school and its 21 acres surplus and to transfer the property to Carroll County effective Oct. 15 was on the floor. School Board member Reggie Gardner made a motion to approve the resolution, which was then followed by an awkward silence as it was not immediately seconded. Even Gardner expressed reluctance to move forward with the transfer.

“We would have probably liked to have seen something different happen at Woodlawn than what we’ve seen happen, but because of funding it’s what we’ve got,” said Gardner. “We want to work with the county to have the access we need to carry out programs, particularly athletics.”

School Board Chairman Brian Spencer wanted to know what guarantee the school board had that the county would continue to let the school system use the facility. Carroll County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Strader Blankenship said he’d been assured the school system would still be allowed to use Woodlawn’s facilities.

Laurel Fork District School Board Member Sanford Hendrick asked if those assurances should be drafted into the resolution agreement to transfer the property. Blankenship said he felt that was not necessary.

“If they don’t allow us to use it, it puts them in a position where an auxiliary gym is absolutely necessary,” said Blankenship.

Spencer wanted to know how much land came with the property. School Board Clerk Tammy Quesenberry responded it includes 21 acres.

“Can we give them the building and keep the land? The reason I’m asking this is because of all the areas having growth, it’s the Woodlawn District,” Spencer said. “If we were to want to build another school that’s where we would want to put it, and when would we ever have the land?…It’s just a very hard pill to swallow.”

At that point, the school board voted on the resolution to transfer the property. Spencer and Joey Haynes voted against the resolution, but it passed 3-2 with yes votes from Gardner, Hendrick and Olen Gallimore.