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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Take a timeout and call the right play for HHS

Thanks to the Hendersonville High School mess, a level of mistrust has crept into the relationship between the Board of Commissioners and School Board that we have not seen since the recession-inspired budget cuts of 2007 and before that in the run-up to the failed school bond issue in 1997.

Everyone should take a step back from the ramparts.
School Board members are misinterpreting a lack of specifics in letters from the Historic Courthouse as evidence that the commissioners aren’t fully supportive of the Stillwell building’s role in a new HHS.
“From this letter I see no direction from the commissioners stating that we can use this building toward school use,” School Board member Amy Holt said Monday night.
That may be because the Board of Commissioners is finally conceding the point the HHS alumni have been pounding the table to make for months: It’s the School Board’s prerogative to spell out what that use will be.
The conflict over HHS is also serving to revive the ill will that rose from the city-county school system merger of the early 1990s. Country mouse and city mouse had swords drawn for years afterwards. School Board members say they’re hearing a warning from Edneyville High School graduates that elected leaders ought to avoid making a big mistake a second time by discarding a high school building that holds deep meaning for generations of local families. Yet we detect a strain from the painful apple country memory that’s less sympathetic: County leaders hosed the Yellow Jackets. Why don’t they hose the Bearcats, too?
School Board members were divided, on a 4-3 vote, on whether to recommend a new school or a combined Stillwell renovation-new school option. But they have been united on a priority list that put the Career Academy and Edneyville Elementary School ahead of HHS.
This might be a good time for the commissioners and School Board members to take an extended timeout. Cool it. Build a new Edneyville Elementary School.
Sit down in a room, as School Board member Colby Coren wisely suggested, and hammer out a clear, concise agreement on renovating the Stillwell building for classroom use and renovating the auditorium for student events. Look once again at the proposal crafted by Carey O’Cain of the alumni association to save and improve the core classroom building and make the campus more compact. If Clark-Nexsen is too proud to help, let Clark-Nexsen pack up its PowerPoint presentations and go back to Asheville.
One thing we’ve learned from the many studies is that the Stillwell building is solid. It’s not about to fall down. It has stood for 90 years — “Dedicated to the Sanctity of Child Personality.” It can stand for a couple more years while the elected leaders patch up their differences and agree to march forward arm in arm.