How old are the schools in Alamance County? Let’s start with very, very old and work from there. In fact, at least one is far older than most would believe and the others aren’t all that far behind. Think pre-World War I, old.
The last high school was built here 48 years ago. Many of the others opened a decade prior to that and Williams High School was constructed just after World War II. We’re talking about facilities that are way out of date when compared to building standards today. That doesn’t include having the infrastructure to handle all the technological needs that are part of education for students learning now to prepare for a job market that is constantly shifting toward digital platforms, computer engineering, robotics and virtual reality.
Decades of students being kids have simply worn down these aging structures. Time and innovation have done the rest. The places are just outdated.
That’s as good a reason as any to support the $150 million bond referendum, which will go before Alamance County voters on Nov. 6. My friends at the Times-News, led by education reporter Jessica Williams, have done a stellar job covering issues related to the bond, most recently in this story that breaks down how the money would be spent if voters OK the referendum and the tax increase that would accompany it. It’s well worth the time to go back and find parts one and two of this series. Or attend a forum where the bond issue will be discussed. Several have already been held. The bonds will pay for renovations and additions at several schools and one new high school. All are needed.
And Elon University is producing a short information session about the bond on Wednesday Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m. in Turner Theater inside Schar Hall (the School of Communications). The 30-minute program will be led by Impact Alamance and provide basic information about the bonds. It’s also a great opportunity to check out Turner Theater for those who haven’t seen it. It’s a movie-theater quality site.
Elon is a big supporter of the bond vote and for good reason. Better schools will draw better economic opportunities to our area. Better schools and jobs will lead more Elon faculty and staff to live in this community rather than commute. And better schools will produce stronger students and a labor force that will lure career-building employers. CEOs make choices about where to locate operations based on how strong the local schools are. Right now, Alamance County gives them little reason to look here. Meanwhile, our brightest young people decide to live elsewhere.
Cindy Brady and Dan Ingle are leading the local pro-bond forces. They have a website where voters can have some questions answered. You can find it here. Cindy and Dan have spent the past few weeks making the rounds promoting the bonds before civic organizations and other groups. Ingle, a former county commissioner and state lawmaker is keenly interested in seeing this effort succeed.
Cindy, who has headed several non-profits and understands the value of not only education but volunteering and spreading the word, is doing so online, in public forums and via several social media platforms. Contact the group to get a sign to place in your yard.
There is still quite a way to go before voters go to the polls in November. But with Labor Day now in the rearview mirror, people will begin considering how they plan to vote. from my perspective, this is just about the most important issue Alamance County voters have faced in 20 years or more. So much of our community’s future, and the future of young people here, will be determined by the support in November for the Alamance-Burlington School System.
I keep coming back to how old the schools here are. So how old are they? Here you go.
The average of the 20 elementary schools in ABSS: 58 years
The average age of seven middle schools in ABSS: 45.4 years
The average age of six high schools in ABSS: 56 years
The average age of three special use schools in ABSS: 52.7
In all: 36 schools in ABSS, average age 54.8
OK, now for a little perspective, let’s look at which schools were built when and during what presidential administration. It’s startling. We can go back 19 presidential administrations.
President William Howard Taft 1909-1913
Sylvan Elementary 1912 (year initially built)
President Woodrow Wilson 1913—1921
Warren G. Harding 1921—1923
Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929
Alexander Wilson Elementary School 1923
A.O. Elementary School 1927
E.M. Holt 1926
Haw River Elementary 1927
Herbert Hoover 1929-1933
Sellars-Gunn Education Center 1931
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945
Harry S. Truman 1945-1953
Williams High School 1948
E.M. Yoder 1949
Ray Street Academy 1950
Graham Middle School 1951
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961
Elon Elementary School 1953
Eastlawn Elementary 1955
Grove Park Elementary 1956
Pleasant Grove Elementary School 1959
Southern High School 1960
John F. Kennedy 1961-1963
Turrentine Middle 1961
Graham High School 1962
South Mebane Elementary 1962
Eastern High School 1963
South Graham Elementary 1963
Western Alamance High School 1963
Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
B. Everette Jordan Elementary School 1968
Broadview Middle School 1968
Richard M. Nixon 1969-1974
North Graham Elementary 1969
Woodlawn Middle School 1969
Cummings High School 1970
Newlin Elementary School 1972
Andrews Elementary School 1973
Gerald Ford 1974-1977
Southern Middle School 1974
James Carter 1977-1981
Western Middle School 1978
Ronald Reagan 1981-1989
George H. W. Bush 1989-1993
William Clinton 1993-2001
Hillcrest Elementary 1994
Smith Elementary 1995
Garrett Elementary 2000
Hawfields Middle 2000
George W. Bush 2001-2009
Highland Elementary School 2007
Barack Obama 2009-2017
Donald Trump 2017–
So more current ABSS schools were built during the Taft administration in the early 1900s than in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations combined. And no high school has been constructed since Cummings was built in 1970, 48 years. Graham, Eastern, Western and Southern all date to 1960-62. Truman was in office when Williams High was built in 1948.
Those are old buildings folks.