Enquirer Herald

Middle schoolers in western district will go to junior high building

CLOVER -- When common sense ran headlong into credibility, the latter came out on top.

The Clover School Board voted unanimously Monday to change its planning model that would have sent middle school students to the Clover Middle School building next year when a new middle school opens on the eastern side of the district. They'll use the junior high facility instead, postponing plans to use that building for high school overflow.

Grades will be reconfigured to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12, eliminating the need for both middle and junior high school.

"The most important thing that this board of education can do, or any board of education can do, is be credible to the people it represents," said Superintendent Dr. Marc Sosne.

In February, the board decided that Clover would remain a one high school district, using the current junior high building to add capacity to Clover High School. The high school, alone, has a capacity of 2,000 while adding the junior high puts it at 2,800. Using that plan, the district could hold off up to 10 years before needing a second high school on the eastern side of the district.

"I moved ahead with that because it made sense to me," Sosne said. "The one piece of information I was lacking was that I was not here in 2006."

Sosne, who arrived as superintendent in 2007, learned only recently that the 2006 bond referendum approved by voters called for middle school students on the western side of the district to move to the junior high campus once the new middle school opened.

But many parents said they helped pass the 2006 bond based on use of the junior high, and that they would not pass another bond without the district keeping that promise,

"We can't afford not to keep our promise on a bond referendum," said resident Kenneth Whitesides, one of several residents who spoke Monday night in favor of the 2006 plan.

Along with community trust, board members noted that a new bond referendum likely to come this spring would have almost no chance of passing if a slow economy were coupled with dissatisfaction.

Cindy Menz, one of the parents who met with Sosne following the community meetings, agreed that the district decision on the issue would be key in whether another bond passes.

"I voted to pass the bond referendum (in 2006) and I will vote to pass another if I am assured I will get what I vote for," she said.

According to the public presentations last month, the high school with a capacity of 2,800 would be used until enrollment reaches 2,300 students, at which point the district would begin working to build a second high school. With the revised plan and use of the junior high for middle school students, the high school is now less than 200 students below capacity.

Still, Sosne said, plans will not move forward on building a new high school anytime soon. Instead the district will keep its 2006 promise and hope for a successful bond vote in the spring that would result in a new middle school opening on the western side in August of 2011. At that point, the plan of using the junior high to supplement the high school could be reintroduced.