The Bladen County Board of Education, which has found itself between a rock and a hard place over the past few years because of budget constraints — some self-imposed, some not — came out swinging on Monday with a proposal that has many teachers, staff and parents crying foul.
The proposal, in a nutshell, would close Plain View Primary School, Booker T Washington and Clarkton School of Discovery beginning with the 2016-17 school year and disperse those students to other area schools.
From where we are sitting, there doesn’t seem to be any other option available to a school board that is bleeding money. The Bladen County Board of Commissioners have given the school district a number of Band-Aids over recent years in the hopes that the economy and the General Assembly would come to the rescue.
Let us remind those who have begun warming up their voices to complain about the consolidation plan that, not all too long ago, the county school board decided to keep its teacher assistants on the payroll at a time when most school districts — including those in neighboring counties — were dropping large numbers of TAs.
Bladen County folks applauded.
That decision, however, kept a lot of salaries and benefits on the books.
And then there is this little reminder: Not once, but twice, Bladen County voters refused to pass the quarter-cent sales tax hike that would have put a good amount of usable money into the school district’s coffers and, more than likely, kept all 13 schools not only open, but refurbished where needed.
Those defeats we lay squarely at the feet of the Bladen Improvement Association — including County Commissioner Delilah Blanks and School Board Chairman Ophelia Munn-Goins. Anyone affiliated with the three schools on the chopping block should point a finger at the BIA for working to defeat what would have been the fairest possible method of taxation to keep those schools open.
In addition, anyone who was hood-winked by the BIA into voting against the quarter-cent sales tax should think twice now about complaining that three schools will most certainly be closed once the process reaches its conclusion.
The chance to keep 13 schools operating in Bladen County died with the defeat of that referendum. Twice.
Toss all the reasons you like at the problem — from giving priority to a jail instead of schools to a top-heavy Central Office to any other incorrect idea there may be.. The facts are the current school board has no option left. And unless there is a drastic increase in population around the county, we see little chance Plain View, Booker T Washington or Clarkton School of Discovery will ever reopen as public schools.
It’s time to rip off those Band-Aids and let the healing begin.