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Coren would charge Bearcats for cost overrun

Colby Coren at a Nov. 9 School Board meeting. Colby Coren at a Nov. 9 School Board meeting.

Saying that he was elected as “a representative and voice for the entire county,” School Board member Colby Coren last week cautioned that decision makers should “look at look at the next hundred years, not dwell on the last hundred” years of Hendersonville High School history.

In a statement that he read from a notebook laptop, Coren, who was elected to the board in 2014, also said that he could only support the renovation of Hendersonville High School “if the alumni base of HHS commits to paying for renovation costs above the budgeted amount.”
Coren suggested that the School Board send both option 2 — renovating and continuing to use the original 1926 core classroom building and auditorium — and option 3 — a new school on the Boyd property — to the Board of Commissioners. Instead the School Board voted 4-3 to recommend option 2.

Here is Coren’s statement:
Tradition is defined as, “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. I have heard this word countless times in the last few weeks as passion and emotion filled discussions with alumni have occurred. We have heard of each tradition and the importance they play in the ‘heartbeat’ of HHS. I believe in tradition and the importance it plays in the life of this school. But, in order for a legacy to continue, we must look toward the future.
As we plan for the future, and the carrying on of the traditions of HHS, we must look at the next hundred years, not dwell on the last hundred. While I have been convinced that the traditions of HHS are cherished by alumni, honored by current students, and looked forward to by future ones, one thing I have not been convinced on is that these traditions will die in a new building.
The definition says that the customs and beliefs are transmitted from generation to generation, not from building to building or seat to seat. The principal of Hendersonville High School has tried to convince us, the commissioners, and the community that HHS will lose who it is by not utilizing the 1926 building. From what I have witnessed in the forum with the alumni and in comments that have been made, the tradition lies in the heart and soul of the generations, not in brick and mortar.
When I was elected, I was elected as a representative and voice for the entire county, as was each member of this board, and county commissioners. We have to step back and look at the big picture. While HHS is a safety concern and hazard, we have another school sitting on the far side of the county that also needs major attention, Edneyville Elementary.
The Edneyville community understands traditions and legacy too. While Edneyville High School no longer stands, the alumni still cling to rich traditions they shared together, despite not standing in those hallowed halls. Edneyville Elementary also has time honored traditions, such as the coming home of graduating seniors each year. These are traditions that will not change when they move in to a new building. But, they will not see that new building if renovation costs of the 1926 building exceed the budgeted numbers. And, per (architect Chad) Roberson’s comments, this is likely to occur. I cannot support a project that is going to likely take the opportunity for another school to have a new building, in order to preserve a perceived tradition.
While we have heard a great deal from a select staff and alumni base at HHS, I don’t believe we have heard from every stakeholder in these projects. The funding for this project doesn’t rest solely in the Hendersonville High School district. The taxpayers, COUNTYWIDE, will carry the burden of paying for these projects in the years to come. It is my responsibility to be a fiscally responsible voice for them. I will gladly give my blessing to option number 2, if the alumni base of HHS commit to paying for renovation costs above the budgeted amount. Otherwise, I ask that we send options 2 and 3 to the county commissioners, without preference, and let them base their decisions on the budgetary numbers they have available to them.
While I think many minds have been made or have had their minds made for them, I ask that each of us look to the future of not just Hendersonville High School, but of Henderson County Public Schools, and base our decisions there. After all, "It's not about the building, it's about our kids."