by Sam Hieb
In his State of the City address earlier this week, High Point Mayor Jay Wagner proposed pulling HP’s schools out of Guilford County Schools and establishing a city school system:
“Philosophically, from my point of view, I’m kind of a believer in local control,” Wagner said in a phone interview Wednesday.
He said there was no particular recent event that triggered his interest in forming the committee.
Rather, he said, the idea came from conversations he has had with High Point community members over the years. People have questioned whether the quality of the schools in High Point has improved since the city school system merged with the former Greensboro City Schools and Guilford County school system 26 years ago.
High Point and Greensboro merged their school systems in 1993—practically a world away. And while the merger presented unique challenges, considering Guilford County has two decent-sized cities within its borders, restructuring would also present challenges, as GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreas pointed out:
Contreras argued that county students get opportunities that students in smaller districts often don’t, such as “world-class programs in Career and Technical Education, visual and performing arts and extensive Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, early and middle colleges and our highly regarded magnet and choice schools.”
A smaller school system, she said, has to have its own leadership, transportation and food services. Breaking up, she said, would eliminate efficiencies, burden taxpayers, and make the problem of underfunded schools worse.
Some might say that High Point is kinda full of itself right now, with its $36 million taxpayer-funded downtown baseball stadium that drew the attention of the New York Times. The N&R cites a University of North Carolina report concluding “that existing literature and studies do not support a strong relationship between the size of a school district and educational outcomes for students,” but how can you argue with local control of a school system? Still, funding and providing support for a school system is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.