by Sam Hieb
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Beverly Emory met with the Board of Commissioners and successfully secured a delay for its $41 million funding request as it figures out what to do about contamination found beneath Hanes and Lowrance middle schools:
The school’s original request included $15.4 million to rebuild the aging Lowrance, which serves special needs students. The original plan was to build a new school on the same Indiana Avenue property it currently shares with Hanes Middle School. Some parents and community members took issue with that plan after the Journal reported that groundwater 35 to 80 feet beneath the property is contaminated with chemicals linked to cancer. Those chemicals can turn into vapor and seep into buildings. The new building was proposed to be built over areas with highest concentrations of groundwater contaminants.
The district has put its building project on hold and has ordered comprehensive soil-vapor and air-quality assessments for both Hanes and Lowrance. The tests, which will be conducted by Raleigh-based environmental engineering firm Mid-Atlantic, are expected to cost anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000. Results are not expected for at least three weeks.
Not sure if the school system can figure out what to do with Hanes and Lowrance —the WSFCS board meets Tuesday to ponder the option of moving students out for the rest of the year—in six weeks, given the chain reaction pulling the site for a new middle school would have on the system’s construction plans. The new schools might to wait for 2016 bond referendum.