Residents shouldstep up to solveschool dilemma

Y’all know the old saying: “If you’re making everyone happy, you’re not doing your job.” That applies to any line of work, from teaching to coaching to management to politics and anything in between.

So if that is true — and we would argue it is — then why do folks in leadership positions still try to do it? It’s a losing proposition; it can’t be done.

A perfect example would be the ongoing tussle surrounding the closing-consolidation-building of schools in Bladen County. It has appeared, at least to us, that the issue is a tug-o-war between the Bladen County Board of Education and the Bladen County Board of Commissioners.

Why? Because neither entity has any money.

The school board is seeing a good chunk of its budget getting siphoned by repairs to schools that are 60 to 100 years old, and each of those repairs are merely Band-Aids at best. In addition, the school district is losing enrollment. It might be a slow loss, with a new charter school and other options like Elizabethtown Christian Academy and homeschooling available, but the losses are projected to continue. That dwindles state funding based on enrollment.

The county commissioners, meanwhile, have their own budget woes to deal with. They recently settled a potential devastating lawsuit in the Joseph Sledge case that will cost the county just short of $1 million, and they are also on the hook for costs attached to the new court-ordered, nearly $20 million county detention center.

However, we have recently changed our collective mind about the opponents of this tug-o-ward. It’s not really the school board versus county commissioners — it’s the school board AND county commissioners versus Bladen County residents, because nobody wants taxes raised or schools closed in order to do what’s necessary.

But there’s the biggest rub of all — school closing-consolidation-building is NECESSARY. Not five or 10 years from now — but now.

Unless we want to just let the status quo rule and do nothing, a decision has to be made to make the best choice for the future of Bladen County students. Now.

That means the school board must bite the bullet and move forward with its preferred plan to close six schools — Booker T. Washington, Clarkton School of Discovery, East Arcadia, Dublin Primary, Plain View and Tar Heel — and merge them into two brand new schools. The cost? About $40 million total, but minus $15 in Tier I grant money from the state. And they should proceed with that plan now.

It also means the county commissioners are going to have to bite the other end of the bullet and raise taxes to cover the cost. It’s got to be done. Even if waiting a few years seems logical now, the costs will be much higher then and there may not be a nice state grant available to assist. Do it now.

There’s not a single plan out there that could possibly make everyone happy, so why not just do the right thing and move forward? If education really is important to residents here, then they need to prove it — put aside the personal agendas, stop with the NIMBY attitudes and jump on the Do What’s Right For The Children Bandwagon.




“True leadreship is doing what’s right even when it’s not popular.” (Unknown)