By Nathan Ham
The general public will have a chance to learn about the potential location for the new Valle Crucis School at an information and input session set to take place at the current Valle Crucis School gymnasium on Tuesday, September 3 at 6 p.m.
According to information from the Watauga County Board of education, both school board members and the Watauga County Board of Commissioners will hold this joint meeting to provide information on the proposed construction of a new school in the Valle Crucis community and hear public comment on the issue as well.
Some in the Valle Crucis community have taken issue with where the proposed school will be constructed. The land, commonly known as the Hodges Property, is currently under contract by the Watauga County Schools and is a quarter of a mile from where the Valle Crucis School sits right now.
“We could not think of a good reason to not rebuild the Valle Crucis school at the current location supplemented by the Valle Landing project that the (Watauga County) commissioners have a contract for,” said Lyle Schoenfeldt, who spoke to the High Country Press on behalf of a group named Residents & Friends of Historic Valle Crucis. “It would be an expanded site and we thought it made the most sense to rebuild the school on that site rather than move it a quarter mile down Broadstone.”
In 2017, an architectural study completed by Watauga County Schools concluded that both Valle Crucis School and Hardin Park School needed to be completely replaced. In March of 2019, the Watauga County Board of Education approved the purchase of 14.4 acres of land on Broadstone Road between the Mast Farm Inn and the Mast General Store Annex. The property under contract was purchased for $1,105,000.
Valle Crucis was designated as the state’s first official rural historic district, something that the group of concerned citizens feels like should be thought about before building a big, new school right at the gateway of the historic district.
At this point, nothing has been decided and will not be decided until a litany of tests are completed by the end of this month or early next month.
“The board of education continues to conduct testing on the Hodges property currently under contract. We hope to have all the engineering tests and studies completed by early September, but so far those tests look very promising,” said Watauga County Superintendent, Dr. Scott Elliott in a previous statement to the High Country Press. “The tests on the property include a wetlands study, a sewer system percolation test, an archaeological study, and a geotechnical study. The next test is to drill a well to determine the volume and quality of water available. We hope to have that completed by the end of the month.”