ELIZABETHTOWN — According to the Bladen County Board of Education, the issue of new school facilities now lies with the county commissioners.
At Monday night’s meeting, school board members and district staff took action on a discussion from the Aug. 5 retreat, agreeing to forward to the county commissioners three possibilities to address the school system’s needs. The three options that will be presented include:
— Option A: Close Plain View and Tar Heel and construct a new K-8 school in the Tar Heel area.
— Option B: Close Plain View, Tar Heel, Dublin, East Arcadia, Clarkton School of Discovery, and Booker T. Washington, and construct two new K-8 schools, one in the Tar Heel area and one in the Council area.
— Option C: a plan drawn up by the commissioners
“Based on information that there wasn’t support for our plan (Option A) at retreat, we decided to develop two options for the commissioners and solicit their input for what they could support beyond our plan,” Superintendent Robert Taylor informed the group, adding that while construction does require commissioner approval, consolidation is a school board decision.
Guest Phyllis Miller raised a question.
“You said Option B includes closing (six schools), and the community has agreed to, or likes, this?” she queried skeptically. “I’m going to tell you they won’t.”
“No,” responded Taylor. “The community supported the plan we went to the commissioners with, but the feedback is they want something different. We’re going to them with an alternative plan.”
When Miller questioned who would pay for either plan, Taylor responded, “That’s their responsibility, not this board’s. What we had worked on, everybody would support. The feedback is, ‘(the commissioners) don’t support your plan.’ So what we want to do is put it in their hands.”
“Are the commissioners aware the community is pretty much in support of the plan we laid out?” questioned board member Dennis Edwards.
“Absolutely,” responded Taylor. “That’s why we were so taken aback.”
Board of Education Attorney Gary Grady questioned whether submitting the options to the commissioners tied the board to the plan, if any, they approved.
“No, we’re just looking for direction,” answered Roger Carroll.
“There’s nothing we can do but hope and pray,” commented chairman Vincent Rozier.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.