The Stokes County School Board is waiting on the county commissioners to make a decision about the fate of the former Francisco Elementary School property before responding to requests to use the facility for any future community events.
The commissioners are expected to discuss whether or not to take possession of the property at their regular meeting on Aug. 24, but will likely not take action on the issues until their first meeting in September.
On Monday, members of the community asked the school board to grant permission for them to use the former school for a series of exercise classes initially planned to start this week.
“The exercise classes being taught at Francisco are a huge community service,” said Paula Duggins. “There is not really another good community space for it. I hope you seriously consider allowing the classes to go forward.”
But Assistant Superintendent Tony George told the board that the system’s insurance company had recently sent them an email asking the board to remove playground equipment from the school and keep it locked at all times to limit liability issues.
He said the company was okay with a back-to-school event planned at the school on Friday, but wanted the facility secured after that.
School Board member Jamie Yontz questioned if it would be cheaper to install a fence around the playground that could be locked, but staff estimated doing that would cost at least $5,000.
“I asked if we could put up a ‘No trespassing’ or ‘Use at your own risk’ sign but the insurance person said that would not hold water,” said George.
Board Member Becky Boles noted that if the county chose to take the property it may want to keep the playground equipment on site.
“We are sitting here talking about tearing out equipment that can’t be put back in and we have no idea if that is even necessary,” she said.
The board agreed to leave the equipment in place and hold off on any decisions on how the community could use the property, despite the warnings from the insurance company, until the Board of Commissioners had voted on the issue.
“We can’t decide on anything until we know who is going to own it,” said Board Chair Sonya Cox.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.