Bladen County Board of Education announces community forums for consolidation talk

By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Education has announced the dates for its community forums regarding a consolidation plan.

The forums, which will focus on school facilities, consolidation, and construction, will be held at the following dates and times:

— Tar Heel Middle School, Monday, May 1, at 6 p.m.

— Clarkton School of Discovery, Tuesday, May 2, at 6 p.m.

— East Arcadia School, Thursday, May 4, at 6 p.m.

— Elizabethtown Middle School, Tuesday, May 9, at 6 p.m.

The latest proposal being considered by the Board — given at February’s meeting — involves the following:

— Booker T. Washington would be closed. Its K-4 students would be sent to either East Arcadia or Elizabethtown Primary.

— Clarkton School of Discovery would remain open and would receive fifth grade students from Booker T. Washington.

— Plain View Primary would close. Some of the students would go to Dublin Primary.

— Tar Heel Middle School would close, and a new K-8 school would be built to accommodate those students and most students from Plain View Primary.

— Modular buildings or new construction would be added to Dublin Primary, Bladenboro Primary, Bladen Lakes, and Elizabethtown Primary to accommodate the additional enrollment.

— Elizabethtown Primary’s cafeteria would be upgraded.

The proposed changes would cost the district approximately $59 million, which the board agreed to petition from the county commissioners. A portion of the $59 million would be for additional upgrades at other schools and for the construction of field houses at the two high schools.

The proposal reflects input received from the community. Superintendent Robert Taylor told the board in February that after talking about consolidation for two years, they had received “much backlash” from the areas in which schools were proposed to be closed.

“I think one of biggest barriers (to consolidation) is that towns are afraid of losing schools in their community,” Superintendent Robert Taylor said recently. “I don’t think anybody in a community wants the community to have zero schools, so that appears to be a starting point to making decisions.”

Anyone living near these schools or having an interest in education is invited to attend.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll

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