OXFORD — After previously hearing a presentation about a possible renovation at G.C. Hawley Middle School, it looks like the Granville County school board is interested in touring the facility.
The point is to give members a chance to “actually touch and feel and see some of the issues that are there in that building, [to] can see how that building compares to other buildings because it’s a little older” than some others in the district, board Chairman David Richardson said.
Officials will find potential dates on which to hold the tour, and will also be “extending that same opportunity to our County Commissioners,” he said.
Richardson added that they “would like to try to schedule a joint meeting with the County Commissioners in March sometime so that we can hear that presentation again and have some common conversation around the topic of Hawley and what are some options there.”
The school system is facing “capital issues” there, he said, alluding to repair and renovation needs.
Board members and system administrators were discussing the issue in early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and intended then to have a joint meeting about it with the Granville County Commissioners.
But when COVID-19 arrived, the school board had to cancel that meeting and have not “picked that back up” with the commissioners, Richardson said during a Feb. 15 board retreat.
The board in February 2020 received a briefing that suggested the possibility of demolishing part of the campus and replacing it with a new building to house the sixth and seventh grade. Renovations to the school’s gym and the eighth-grade building were also on the table.
The estimated cost of the base project, including design, furniture and fittings charges, was $21.9 million.
The oldest buildings on the Hawley campus date from the early and mid 1960s. A few got a renovation in 2005.
With the need for upgrades remaining, the board needs to figure out what it “is willing to do to make that happen to move forward in conjunction” with the County Commissioners, Richardson said.
“So the thought would be [that] you’d tour Hawley first, then we would have our joint meeting with the commissioners, and then possibly have some discussion in April about what our next steps would look like,” he said.
Richardson said the board needs to focus on having the conservation again in March and April, with input from its strategic planning task force and “other areas as far as how we can best serve the community in that way around Hawley.
Board member Leonard Peace asked if officials have considered having a meeting with the community about Hawley, and Richardson answered that that’s one of the tasks that that strategic task force “will look at doing possibly.”
“We have put some community members on that task force to be able to get that input back from the community about some of the things they would like to see there,” Richardson said. “So, yes sir,we’ve thought a little bit about it. We’ve not put anything in place yet for that.”
Peace said he thinks that would be worth the effort to get the community’s input.
Board Member Ethel Anderson asked what impact the arrival of Hawley’s International Baccalaureate program might have. “That was a great success for them and then still moving forward in this direction,” she said.
Superintendent Alisa McLean said garnering support for the school, including community support, is important.
Richardson added that he liked Peace’s suggestion about bringing the community along early on in the process so “that we don’t get too far down a road” that people are not willing to support.