ELIZABETHTOWN — After a brief hiccup last week night, Bladen County Schools’ Early College program is still on track.
At the retreat in August, Bladen County Board of Education members heard from Asstistant Superintendent Tanya Head about the possibility of Early College for the district, a move that would allow 120 high school students who might not be able to participate in dual enrollment to take college-level classes taught on the campus of Bladen Community College by BCC staff.
Board members learned at the retreat the district was approved for $275,000 to fund the program, which would be considered as a 14th “school” in the system of 13. At the retreat and again at the August meeting when it was approved, board member Roger Carroll repeatedly pressed the issue of funding, saying he and fellow board member Tim Benton would not vote in favor of anything that required them to solicit money from the commissioners.
At last week’s regular board meeting, Carroll brought up the issue again, questioning whether the funding would indeed cover the program.
“It’s come to my attention that … the money (will not be allocated) continually … it’s going to be done every two years,” he said. “That comes to $137,500 every year … I really don’t think the county commissioners will fund this Early College knowing it won’t be funded the way it had been projected to us.
“If we ask to build a new school, we can’t turn around and ask for help with Early College,” he added. “It’s a good thing, as long as it doesn’t put any addition burden on taxpayers.”
Benton added that he had received mixed messages as well and had called Raleigh and been told the payments are distributed on a two-year cycle.
“I’m not against Early College — I think it’s a great concept,” Benton commented.
After ascertaining the name of the person with whom Carroll and Benton had spoken, Taylor said they “could rest assured (he would) be on the phone tomorrow.”
On Thursday, Taylor commented by email, “I have confirmed that the funding is as we said, $275K each year. Unless the Board directs me otherwise, we are moving forward, and we’ve no (intentions) of asking commissioners for additional funding for the Early College.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.