Maintenance a critical need for schools

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Nash-Rocky Mount school board members are taking a greatly needed look at infrastructure, maintenance and the costs associated with each.

Those aren’t the sexiest of agenda items, but next to providing a quality education, it’s hard to imagine a more important priority.

As Telegram staff writer Jim Holt reported this week, the board has begun discussing a 10-year capital imrovement plan that focuses on the needs of a middle-aged system.

The average Nash-Rocky Mount facility is 48 years old, according to Dr. Eric Cunningham, associate superintendent of facilities and operations. We’re fortunate that most of our schools are in as good a shape as they are, but with that kind of longevity comes a lot of physical issues.

Cunningham estimated that 60 percent of the school system’s heating and air conditioning equipment is in poor or extremely poor condition. The school board at the moment is putting all options on the table, including the possible consolidation of schools, to find ways to keep operations stable and efficient.

We would remind the board to bring Nash County commissioners into the discussion at an early stage, also. No one knows the system as well as Nash-Rocky Mount administrators, but since county commissioners are charged with approving spending for schools, the board of education members should state their case as publicly and as frequently as possible.

Infrastructure and maintenance are getting some long overdue attention all over North Carolina, thanks to Gov. Pat McCrory and his stated priorities for repairing and renovating state facilities.

Quality schools are important for our children and for attracting new businesses and industries to the Rocky Mount area. It’s reassuring to see the school board take maintenance plans so seriously.