CLARKTON — “No Bladen County teachers will be without a job” after consolidation, according to Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor this week.
On Tuesday evening, around 80 folks gathered at Clarkton School of Discovery to learn the fate of the school if the proposal goes through. While Taylor led the meeting, also in attendance before the guests were Board of Education Chairman Vincent Rozier and board members Roger Carroll, Alan West, Dennis Edwards, Chris Clark, and Glenn McKoy. County Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson was in attendance as a guest. Also available on the panel were representatives from the Transportation Department and Facilities Department.
In the same vein as Monday night’s forum at Tar Heel Middle School, Taylor began by outlining the aging facilities, declining enrollment, and rising construction costs. He emphasized again Tuesday night that cost savings would be found through personnel, which, if the proposal is successful, will save the system $325,000. Taylor was quick to point out, however, that it isn’t as dismal as it seems.
“We start every year with vacancies and go through every year with vacancies,” he explained. “Any kind of savings we have will be done through attrition, retirement.”
Later in the evening, he added, “What I would reassure every teacher is there won’t be an issue in terms of you having a job.”
Teachers whose positions were lost through consolidation would be able to talk with principals about other vacancies in the system, Taylor told guests.
Again Tuesday night, a repeated refrain was the inability of the board of education to make the ultimate decision, which would be financial.
“We’re not a taxing authority,” informed Taylor, adding later, “That falls squarely at the feet of the county commissioners.”
During the Q & A portion of the evening, one guest asked if, after consolidation, fifth-graders at Clarkton School of Discovery would be able to participate in Project Challenge. Taylor responded that such an addition would require more staff, and it would be the responsibility of the AIG program to make the call.
Another guest asked if students in Bladen County were allowed to attend school across the county line in other districts.
“When it comes to students attending school outside the district, that parent has to get permission from this Board of Education, and that LEA should get that release from the county where student resides,” responded Taylor. “Does that happen all the time? It does not.”
The next forum will be held Thursday, May 6, at East Arcadia at 6 p.m.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.