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Closed school as busy as ever

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Carroll County will take over ownership of Woodlawn School next month.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Though Woodlawn school won’t be used as an educational facility when its transferred to the county supervisors in October, athletic teams will still need the gym and the ball fields for their games.
Carroll educators have a timeline to give the former school back to the county supervisors, and both governmental bodies have made plans for the transfer.

Oct. 15 is the day that Schools Superintendent Strader Blankenship believes control of the Woodlawn facility will revert to the county officials, he said at this month’s school board meeting
This falls after the schools’ surplus auction is held Oct. 5 and after a resolution will be approved by the school board at the Oct. 8 meeting.
Like the school board before them, the supervisors will soon see how much of a gap there will be in athletics without using Woodlawn.
How has the old school facilities been factored into the continuing athletics programs, school board member Joey Haynes wondered.
“We have talked to [the county officials] and asked them and they said we can continue to use [Woodlawn] for those purposes,” the superintendent answered.
Who will continue the maintenance on the school and its grounds, which soccer teams are practicing on now, Haynes asked.
School maintenance workers will do that up until the transfer, said Tammy Quesenberry, school board clerk. After that, the county will provide the mowing and maintain the heating.
Requests still come in for community groups to use Woodlawn, she added. When that happens, the schools have supplied a custodian to be there during the event.
Team coaches who practice in the gym have keys and are responsible for the upkeep during those periods, Quesenberry said.
During this transition, the supervisors will need to know just how much the old school gets used by outside organizations, she said. That should come out during further discussions about the transfer.
“I think they’re just realizing how much it’s being used and, secondly, what a task it is just scheduling it,” Blankenship said.
“Is this also something they’re going to continue,” school board member Sandy Hendrick asked about sports team practices at Woodlawn. “Are they going to say, ‘We’re going to do it for now… Oops, we done messed up. We’re done.’”
“I have been told they will let us use that facility,” Blankenship answered. “They also know the position that we’re in with our teams.”
Supervisor Tom Littrell brought the matter up at the Sept. 9 county board meeting.
Noting that the county needs to be prepared after accepting the property from the school system, Littrell suggested forming a committee to look at possible future uses of Woodlawn and different maintenance needs.
As he understands it, the boilers for the heating system aren’t in good shape.
County officials selected Littrell and Supervisor Sam Dickson to serve on that committee.
Requests for use of the facility have already come in, county officials noted. Special Olympics, for example, uses the facility for practice every Sunday.
This drew a suggestion from Dickson of working on an interim program for Woodlawn’s community uses.
“The problem’s worse than we know about that,” Supervisor Bob Martin said. “The gymnasium is used seven days a week.”
With varsity and JV boys and girls teams all practicing there, the need for Woodlawn is huge and constant, Martin said.
Littrell suggested that a complete listing of current uses of the building should be added to the committee’s duties.