This blog is presented to share the process and progress of the new Watauga High School. It is moderated by Shelton Wilder. All postings are made public according to the educational and informational intent of the moderator.
On behalf of the Watauga Board of Education, we would like to express our appreciation to all who have assisted us in our studies, planning, and financing the dream and now the reality of a new Watauga High School.
We have said for years that we need to invest wisely in the future of our children. This new facility is a good example of a wise investment.
Watauga County Schools have top performing and achieving students and very competent and effective employees. With this new, updated and modern educational facility, we know that we can and will improve our student performances; as well to better prepare them to enter into the global world of today and in the future.
The construction of a new Watauga High School was not the work of any one individual, board member, or community; nor did the planning, design, financing, and construction of the facility take place overnight.
For several years after the construction of the WHS in 1965, many discussions and considerations were made regarding the facility providing the necessary resources students need to successfully and adequately complete their secondary education requirements.
From 2001 to 2003 the board of education discussed the options and possibilities of a second high school in numerous work sessions and meetings. Local funding did not allow us to pursue this option. In 2003 the BOE developed a “Five Point Plan” that would have addressed the following: construction of a second high school, construction of two new high schools, extensive expansion and renovation of the current facility, removal of the ninth grade to a separate facility or development of an off-campus program serving a significant number students.
On April 4, 2003 the “Five Point Plan” was greatly discussed at the Watauga Education Summit sponsored by Watauga County Schools and Boone Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the forum was to bring together educators, public officials, business leaders, parents, staff, students and taxpayers to have dialogue on critical issues and trends facing our school system in the 21st century. Dr. Richard Jones, who was then our school superintendent and many others, shared their vision and concerns toward all aspects of education. The Summit’s theme was “It’s Time to Choose”- a reference to the ongoing debate relative to one high school, two schools, or some other school organizational plan. In my opinion, this meeting was important, if not the most important, to involve the entire county in the theme “It’s Time to Choose”.
In July of 2003 we welcomed Dr. Bobbi Short as our new school superintendent. Dr. Short was in total agreement that some solution to our facility needs should be addressed. Dr. Short soon recommended that we do a professional feasibility study. The study results conducted at each of our school districts clearly showed a need for a new high school at a new site. The Board of Education agreed and in 2004 we began the site selections and plans for a new high school.
In 2005, a sub-committee was formed by the Watauga County Board of Education and the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. Membership of this committee was two board members from each board, school superintendent, and the county manager. Our purpose was to share our concerns and issues with better communication and understanding of the county school system by both boards. Planning, design, and financing of the new WHS have been the top priority of this committee from 2005 to present.
In 2006 after years of discussion and feasibility studies, the Watauga Board of Education and the Watauga Board of Commissioners concluded that the best option for our students, employees, and the taxpayers of Watauga County was to build a new high school at a new site. The decision was based on the cost of renovations projected by professional consultants to be $35,000,000.00 and the sale of the current WHS to help reduce the cost of a new state of the art high school was the most logical option.
The dedicated assistance by so many, including those I have mentioned earlier, as well as the key communicators, WHS planning committee members, WHS core committee members, our current school superintendent Dr. Marty Hemric, project manager Don Critcher, and so many others too numerous to name in this article have brought us to where we are today.
In conclusion, the Watauga Board of Education would like to say an enormous thank you to all that have assisted us in this project, especially the taxpayers of Watauga County. The children of our county will certainly reap the rewards of educational success by the wise investment ALL have made.