The Waynesboro School Board is moving ahead with its plans to commit city taxpayers to $75 million for a new Waynesboro High School after hitting up those same taxpayers for nearly $9 million in improvements in 2002 and 2007.
The city undertook a $7.5 million reworking of the school complex in 2002 that added nearly 10,000 square feet of instructional space to the building and renovated the remaining 140,000 square feet.
Then in 2007, the city spent $1.4 million on a new soccer and track complex on property between Waynesboro High School and the Waynesboro School Board offices on Pine Avenue.
This is money that ostensibly is flushed down the drain the moment that Waynesboro City Council were to sign on to the School Board plan. It’s hard to imagine the current Waynesboro High School building, in operation since 1937, having any useful life in the event that the school system would move operations to a new location.
It’s also hard to imagine the soccer and track complex having any greater use than adding another recreational facility to the city’s roster, and that would be assuming that whatever future reuse of the adjoining property currently used for the high school wouldn’t end up trumping those plans.
The numbers being thrown around for whatever is next for Waynesboro High School seem almost fantastic: either $75 million for a new high school or $46 million for a comprehensive renovation.
This in a community of roughly 20,000 residents that doesn’t seem poised for tremendous population growth, given our relatively landlocked nature and demographics that have the community more a bedroom community for transplants and seniors without kids than one teeming with young families soon to flesh out the local school system.
Either $46 million or $75 million is a lot of money for a small town. And actually, that $9 million that we committed to renovations and the new soccer-track complex that we’d be throwing away is a lot of money.
There have to be better ways for us to improve the delivery of public education in Waynesboro.
– Column by Chris Graham