County Proposes Giving Academy Heights to Taylortown
The former Academy Heights School in the Taylortown community may get a new “lease” on life after a decision last week by the county commissioners.
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend that the school system offer the facility to Taylortown at no cost, saying the county had no desire to utilize the structures on the 77-year-old campus.
As holders of the property, the county exercised its right of first refusal, a contractual privilege that gives the holder the initial option to enter into a transaction with a third party. With the county’s decision, the school board can enter into a transaction with a third party.
“We have no interest in the property, including the gym,” Board Chairman Larry Caddell said before the vote.
“Parks and Recreation had considered the gymnasium, but after maintenance and upkeep figures were discussed, it was decided that the budget was not big enough. I understand the residents of Taylortown would like to obtain the property for their own use, and I wish them well in their pursuit of the facility.”
Commissioner Tim Lea agreed.
“The residents of Taylortown view this school as historic, so a case can be made for the property to go to them for use in community functions,” he said. “I suggest that while the facility is of no use to the county, the schools might wish to consider letting Taylortown have the buildings at no cost.”
Taylortown Mayor Ulysses Barrett said that giving the facility back to the community of 900 would be “the right thing to do.”
“This school is part of our community, and I don’t know anyone here who does not want the school returned to us,” he said. “Almost everybody here has a family connection to Academy Heights.”
The school was closed in June 2011 as a cost-saving measure implemented by the Moore County school system to help absorb an $8.2 million funding shortfall from the state.
Students were transferred to West Pine Elementary and Pinehurst Elementary schools.
School system spokesman Tim Lussier said that as far as the school board was concerned, “anything is possible” at this point regarding the property.
“I have heard no discussion from the board about the future of the Academy Heights facility,” Lussier said. “It was a matter of waiting to see what the commissioners would do, and now that the issue is decided, the board will look into its options. Taylortown’s assumption of the property is obviously a possibility.”
The item is not on the agenda for the school board’s March 12 meeting.
Academy Heights was built in 1934 to serve the predominantly black community before school integration. It became Pinehurst Elementary School in 1969. At more than 37,000 square feet, the facility’s last update took place in 1991.
Academy Heights became a year-round school in 1996.
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