Cherokee County considers combining schools

Andrews High School is one of the schools the county is thinking about consolidating. (Image: WTVC)

Crumbling, deteriorating schools moves one teacher to tears.

Right now, school leaders in Cherokee County are weighing whether to consolidate schools they say are in bad shape.

The school system says they've hired a consulting firm to help them decide what is best for the system financially and the students.

Dana Anderson teaches at Murphy High School.

Where her dad taught before her and where her daughter now goes to school.

Today, she showed NewsChannel 9 what parts of the school need repairs.

"So now we're going into the women's bathroom which I do believe was here when I was here in 1989," she said.

It is the bathroom her daughter uses and the most used bathroom in the school.

It was the first time she'd seen what her daughter and other students complain about.

Rusty pipes, worn out toilets, and an old mirror.

"Sad because we always want better for our children and this hasn't been upgraded," Anderson said.

Just today, the school closed off a hallway when it started to leak from the rain.

One classroom is overcrowded and doesn't have A/C or heat.

Murphy High was built in the 50's.

It's the oldest school of all Cherokee County schools but it's not the only one with problems.

"The newest building we have is 20 years old," Superintendent Dr. Jeana Conley said.

Dr. Conley says the county and school system can't keep up with repairs and think consolidating schools would be a better option financially.

They're considering several different ideas.

Like, combining the three high schools into a new building or combining elementary schools.

"Two campuses, an east and a west, another recommendation was a single solitary campus specifically for high schools," she said.

Dr. Conley says many people here.. aren't interested in any changes.

She thinks it's because of the loyalty parents and students have for their school and small communities.

Ben Wilson is one of those loyal graduates.

"Small communities foster a better learning environment," Wilson said.

After leaving Murphy High, he graduated from Yale and credits the small schools here for his success.

He just moved back to Murphy so his daughter could have the same experience he did.

"A big part of it was to send our daughter to a small community school where she would be, you know, where she would have an identity and not be swallowed up in a sea of a thousand or two thousand students," he said.

A discussion that could come down to knowing your classmate or knowing your school building is safe.

Dr. Conley says they will have to make a final decision in the next few months.

She hopes to apply for a grant from the state that will help them pay for the new schools.

The state would match $5 million for every $1 million the county provides. The grant is geared toward poorer communities.

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