Bladen County Board of Education to vote on school closings in February

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Education is set to vote on a plan that would close two schools.

“We’ll be asking the board to make a final ruling at the February meeting,” said Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor on Monday evening.

According to Taylor, the board will be voting on the closing of Booker T. Washington Primary School in Clarkton and the middle school at East Arcadia.

Though the vote will only apply to the two schools, the last comprehensive plan presented to the public involves the following:

— Booker T. Washington would be closed. Ten kindergarten students, eight first-graders, nine second-graders, five third-graders, and six fourth-graders would relocate to East Arcadia Primary. The remaining 114 students — 16 kindergartners, 22 first-graders, 22 second-graders, 23 third-graders, and 31 fourth-graders — would attend Elizabethtown Primary School.

— Elizabethtown Primary School … since ETP doesn’t have the capacity for 114 additional BTW students, 114 ETP students would begin attending Bladen Lakes Primary. A multipurpose building would be added to Elizabethtown Primary at a cost of approximately $1 million, and the cafeteria would be expanded.

— East Arcadia … 47 students — 10 fifth-graders, 13-sixth graders, 12 seventh-graders, and 12 eighth-graders — would attend Clarkton School of Discovery. Eight students — two each from fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades — would move to Elizabethtown Middle School. East Arcadia would get a multipurpose building.

— Dublin Primary … Three kindergartners, six first-graders, seven second-graders, four third-graders, and eight fourth-graders would attend a new K-8 school constructed in or near Tar Heel.

— Plain View Primary … 27 kindergartners, 30 first-graders, 29 second-graders, 29 third-graders, and 36 fourth-graders would attend a new K-8 school constructed in or near Tar Heel.

— Tar Heel Middle School … All 295 Tar Heel Middle School students would attend a new K-8 school constructed in or near Tar Heel.

— Bladen Lakes Primary … would get a $500,000 classroom addition to accommodate the 114 ETP students.

— Bladenboro Primary … would get a multipurpose building at a cost of approximately $1 million.

At the meeting Monday, Taylor informed board members that staff are in the process of looking at bus routes, furniture needs, and cafeteria equipment, as well as looking at various project management groups to compare pricing, presumably for renovations at other schools.

“We know we’ll have to spend some money upfront to do project prep work,” Taylor informed the board. “We also want to make sure we don’t spend money unnecessarily.”

If the board approves the closings, they would go into effect with the start of the 2018-19 school year, according to Taylor.

In North Carolina, school boards do not need a public vote or the approval of county commissioners to close schools.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

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Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal