School alums concerned over conditions

March 9, 2012 2:59:25 PM PST
Alums of Athens Drive High School said their school was supposed to be a gem in the Capital City but they said three decades worth of red tape and broken promises have led to nothing but decay.

First there were problems with the football stadium and now the library is just the latest concern at the school.

"It's heartbreaking. When we went to school there 20 years ago, it was the best school in the county," said Kim Salmon, with Athens Drive Alumni Association. "It was one of the best schools in the state."

Salmon is proud to say she graduated from Athens Drive High School in the late 1980s. However, now she is in tears over a series of problems she says could easily have been avoided.

"It's just really hard to see a place that you spent the best years of your youth in to be in such disrepair and that no one seems to care," said Salmon.

She said the football stadium in disrepair.

"Our announcer at the football games gets an electrical shock every time he touches the P.A. system," said Salmon.

Earlier this week, termites were discovered in the library.

"We would like to be able to say I'm so proud that's where I went to school," said Salmon. "We don't have to have state championship banners. But at least have a safe place for our next generation of Jaguars to participate and have the same opportunities we had."

So what's the issue? For starters, the school's stadium is on city property.         

"We just own the land," said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. "I mean we don't have anything to do with the decisions where they're going to put resources or how they're going to change those buildings."

School leaders would only say the process is complex.

"We have 165 schools," said Greg Thomas, with the Wake County Public School System. "There's a lot of economic pressures these days. It's a priority to keep the facilities in good shape, and we'll do what we need to do to keep those facilities in good shape."

As for the library, it's shared by students and the county. However, its upkeep is left entirely up to the school.

Salmon said it's all just a maze of red tape. She said there has been alumni money on the table for years and the city, county and school system are just passing the buck.

"We're waiting for a politician to make a decision. And most politicians don't really care because they didn't go to Athens," said Salmon. "They don't have children that go to Athens. So they don't care."

In January, Raleigh City Council did vote to start making some improvements to the school's stadium and the surrounding area. That process is now underway.

Officials said the library is now termite free.

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