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Officials want Central Elementary taken off surplus list, new uses considered

Haywood County School leaders put Central Elementary on the surplus list last year. But now county commissioners want the school board to remove it from the surplus list. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

There could be new life for an old school that closed in Waynesville.

School leaders cited a budget shortfall, declining enrollment and the cost of upkeep as reasons for closing the school. Students were shifted to Junaluska or Hazelwood elementary schools, and Haywood County School leaders put Central Elementary on the surplus list last year. But now county commissioners want the school board to remove it from the surplus list.

They said the school district could use the building for a variety of things. Options include space for administrative offices, the Alternative Learning Center, Central Haywood High School or the IT department. And, if conditions are right, it could even be used as a school again, school board chairman Chuck Francis said.

“Possibly, yes,” he said. “When we start to grow in our enrollment, which could happen in the future, if economic development happens in the county, then, definitely, we would have a need for space.”

Some parents criticized school leaders last year, suggesting a move of administrative offices to Central Elementary’ s building was part of the thinking behind closing it. Francis said that was never true.

Beth Pratt, who has two children who used to attend Central, said they are adjusting to their new school in Hazelwood.

She thinks the decision to close Central was made abruptly.

“There was such a hurry and such a rush, and it was supposed to save all this money. So, it's a little frustrating because it feels like maybe it was just a little quick,” Pratt said.

She’s optimistic that, with more families moving to the area, there could be school again at Central

“There could be a future for it as long as they keep it in good condition. It's a great place,” Pratt said.

The school board will hold a building and grounds meeting at 5 p.m. June 5. It is open to the public.

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