BOE allows advanced classes

By: By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — Middle-school students can now take high-school level classes at home in Bladen County.

At December’s meeting of the Bladen County Board of Education, an issue was brought to light regarding parents who were requesting their middle-school children be allowed to take high-school level classes online through North Carolina Virtual Public School. Though classes like math I — a high school class — are currently allowable in Bladen County middle schools, they are taught face-to-face in middle schools. With VPS, students would take classes online taught by a teacher at a remote location. Classes, while they would be included on a transcript, would not count toward a student’s GPA.

Last month, Bladen County Ass’t. Superintendent Tanya Head informed the board that such an allowance would open a can of worms staff weren’t prepared to deal with yet, and she suggested tabling the issue until January’s meeting to ascertain how many students were interested in the possibility.

At Monday’s meeting, Head informed the board that, after surveying the principals, an estimated 24 students at Clarkton School of Discovery and Elizabethtown Middle School might be interested. She also said the earth science class under consideration was “very demanding,” requiring an additional 2.5-hour daily commitment on the part of the student.

“The student would need to be very committed and self-motivated to complete something like this,” Head said after the meeting. “This is the direction education is going, and we want to make sure we’re transparent and that we have a process in place that will protect the board, ensure equal opportunity for all students, and make sure students are ready.”

To address issues like graduation requirements, funding and prerequisites, a committee has been established. In the interim, the board granted approval for students moving ahead with the earth science class on Jan. 23, provided parents sign a contract outlining conditions.

In other business, the board:

— Addressed consolidation, but when Superintendent Robert Taylor requested possible dates for community forums to address the issue, one board member suggested the board meet before community forums in order to “see what the objectives” of three new board members are. Board members agreed to get together at a later date to discuss consolidation and agreed to email one another to set that date.

— Revised the school calendar to reflect the N.C. General Assembly’s decision to forgive days missed because of Hurricane Matthew.

— Heard a report from CPA Adam Scepurek, who audited the system’s finances and found no deficiencies or items out of compliance. Scepurek commended Finance Director Sharon Penney’s “competent, well-organized” finance department and the healthy addition to the general fund.

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

By Chrysta Carroll