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Vote means all new schools will open in 2009
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Forsyth County News

It wasn't a unanimous decision, but the Forsyth County school system will open all five of its new schools as planned next year.

The 4-1 vote by the Board of Education on Thursday night quelled discussion over not opening Brookwood Elementary and Lakeside Middle schools, both slated for the 2009-10 school year.

Board member Mike Dudgeon cast the dissenting vote on the issue, which the board considered in light of lower attendance projections for next year.

Superintendent Buster Evans made the recommendation to continue as planned, saying the "appropriate thing to do is to ensure that we put children in the very best and most educationally conducive classrooms that we can."

During its previous meeting, the board heard from staff members including Chief Facilities and Operations Officer Robert Sewell, who said the district would lose the contractor's warranty on the two schools, were they not to open as scheduled.

Sewell also said the school system would need only 63 portable classroom buildings if they went ahead with all five schools.

Cost was a key issue as well in discussing the opening of the new campuses, which include two other elementary schools and Lambert High School.

Dudgeon reiterated his position from last week's meeting, noting the board could save about $2.5 million by not opening the two schools. That money translates to a 2 percent tax increase, he added.

"It's going to be a tough budget year, as we all recognize," he said. "I can see both sides of the argument, but I personally believe that saving the money would be worthwhile so that we can minimize any tax implications."

Board member Ann Crow said she had a problem putting more students in trailers when there is a building ready with technology and other learning tools.

"I think you're really hurting them if you keep them in trailers when we have that building," she said. "We knew we were going to need the extra money ... We may save it this year, but we still have to come up with it in the next year."

Frank Reddy contributed to this report.