BOE still mulling DPI report for school closings

By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — After one month to consider the Department of Public Instruction’s report on school consolidation, the Bladen County School Board is still pondering the issue.

At the meeting in August, a representative from DPI informed the board that, after conducting inspections at 11 of the 13 schools and crunching numbers, it was the Consolidation Committee’s recommendation that the system close Plain View Primary and either Clarkton School of Discovery or Booker T. Washington. The considerable cost of necessary repairs was cited as the reason for the recommendation, which agreed with what the board had previously voiced.

The representative supplied the board with copies of the report, and board members declined to comment on consolidation until they had time to review the report.

At Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Robert Taylor synthesized the report and inquired of the board their wishes for a timeline for refinement. The board asked that he spend the next month gathering more information about the costs associated with critical issues cited by the report and return in October with that information.

“It could change the whole scope of the proposal,” said Public Information Officer Valerie Newton, “but that would be up to the board. They’ll consider that information along with DPI’s report.”

No timeline was given for making a decision about consolidation, though board members have previously stated that the earliest any decision will take effect is the fall of 2017.

In other business, the board:

— Agreed to submit an application for Comprehensive Innovative High School. Though final approval must be granted based on funds available to the General Assembly, if approved, the program would allow high school students to pursue four additional pathways of college courses. Pathways include Associate of Science, Industrial Systems Technology Machining, Allied Health, and Information Technology. Classes for the program, which would be taken on the campus of BCC, are separate from the college-level courses of North Carolina Virtual Schools and BCC currently available.

— Agreed to hire Sgt. Gary Turlington of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office as a system-wide security officer. Turlington will advise the system of security risks at schools and implement programs to maintain district safety. The position will be paid for by a cost share agreement with the Sheriff’s Office.

— Heard a report on driver’s education. The board learned that, since its implementation in 2014, the program has registered 332 students in nine classes and seen great success.

— Approved an agreement with the Bladen County Health Department, which will fund five nursing positions.

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

By Chrysta Carroll

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