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Guilford County commissioners tour Kiser Middle School as parents raise concern over new location

The new Kiser Middle School is expected to be built on the site of Grimsley High School's baseball and softball fields.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Three Guilford County commissioners toured Kiser Middle School Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the school which is expected to be rebuilt on the site of the Grimsley High School baseball and softball fields.

Kiser is one of the eight schools being rebuilt with the $300 million bond approved in 2020. Voters will decide on another $1.7 billion bond in May for more school construction and renovation projects. Architects said in March, that the only feasible location for the new Kiser Middle School is on the Grimsley fields.

"[Architects] all came back with one consistent answer, and that was that placing the new Kiser building here on the fields is not only the most structurally viable the most traffic viable but also the most cost-efficient," GCS board member Deborah Napper said earlier in April.

On Wednesday, Guilford County Commissioners Skip Alston, Carlvena Foster, and Frankie Jones toured the current Kiser Middle School.

"It’s really been an eye-opener for me," Foster said. "It’s the same story across Guilford County and voters need to be more aware of the conditions of the schools."

Commissioners have been touring schools throughout the district since December as the vote on the $1.7 billion bond approaches. 

Kiser was built in 1957 and school leaders said it's in need of some major upgrades. 

"I think the biggest thing I’m excited about is having a place that we can be proud of, having a place that’s going to be bright, welcoming, and inviting for students, and a place that our students and staff are going to be excited about learning and working in," Kiser principal Teddy Wohlgemuth said.

Throughout the school, commissioners saw exposed wires, inoperable bathrooms, and leaky roofs.

"It shows us that the maintenance has not been kept up on this building," Alston said. "If we neglect our home that was built in 1957, we don’t do anything for them for the next 65 years, we would have bad living conditions too."

RELATED: Architects recommend building new Kiser Middle School on site of Grimsley fields

Credit: Guilford County Schools
A schematic rendering of the new Kiser Middle School

Parents, specifically the Grimsley High School Athletics Booster Club, have raised concern over the impacts construction would have on Grimsley students. The construction would affect about 200 students who would have to play and practice elsewhere as the fields are taken over. Guilford County Schools officials said they are working on a shared-used agreement with the Parks and Recreation Department to use their fields, but details have not been finalized. 

The Young McCall Baseball Field is named after two people: Willie Young Sr., a Grimsley custodian and groundskeeper for more than 40 years, and Lewis McCall, who led the school to the state baseball championships in 1960 and ’64.

New fields would potentially be built on the site of Brooks Global Studies Magnet School, which is being torn down and rebuilt on the site of the old Craven Elementary School on Parkwood Drive.

Credit: WFMY
The new Kiser Middle School will be built on the site of the current Grimsley High School baseball and softball fields. New fields could be built where Brooks Global Studies currently sits.

To pay for the new fields, the district could use the $1.7 billion bond voters will decide on in March if it passes.

The school system has also started selling unused property. It said the total value of the land comes out to more than $2 million.

If the bond does not pass, the district plans to use money from the property sale.

"We want to make the most use of the tax dollars and the bond money," GCS board member Pat Tillman said.

Tillman said the board will fight to make sure it has enough money to build new fields, so the relocation is only temporary.

"I hope that the parents talking about the field know that they are going to get a better field than the ones they have now, so just be patient with us, we are going to get there," Alston said.

Construction on the new Kiser will begin in the summer of 2022 and will be finished by 2024. The new fields may not be complete until 2025.

RELATED: Grimsley community demands answers from board members about plan to build a school over its athletic fields

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