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Bladen County School Board Sets Dates For School Consolidation Public Forums

by Joy Warren

Dr. Robert Taylor presented five dates for the School Board to consider for holding Public Forums for the community to share their concerns and questions regarding School Consolidation. Taylor stated the purposes of the forums are to fulfill the statutory regulations for consolidation and most importantly to allow the public the opportunity to ask questions and be heard. He proposed the dates of April 3, 4, 5, 6, and 11 in the communities of Tar Heel, Clarkton, East Arcadia and Elizabethtown. The Board opted to delete the 5th since it falls on a Wednesday night. A motion was made and seconded, but before the Board could vote a member of the audience asked if she could ask a question. Board Chairman Rozier allowed her to pose her question. Ms. Miller was concerned that the April dates would coincide with school baseball games and therefore keep people from being able to attend the forums. The motion was amended and approved to change the dates to May 1, 2, 4, 9 for the forums. If the Board decides to act on any issues they can do so at the June meeting. Board Attorney Gary Grady stated he did not know of any time frame they had to follow, but suggested that they move forward as quickly as possible if they plan to make any changes for the 2017-18 school year.

In other business, the Board recognized Dennis Edwards and Gary Rhoda for completion of Merit Training Certificates on School Boardmanship. Also recognized monthly attendance winners – West Bladen High School, Clarkton School of Discovery and Booker T Washington Elementary.

Sharon Penny presented the February Financial Report and Valerie Newton shared that the Child Nutrition Department recognized in state publications. Dr. Tanya Head informed the Board of several summer camps that have been scheduled – Reading Camp for 1-3rd graders June 12- July 6th ; Migrant Camp June 12th- June 30th ;STEAM Camp for 4th – 8th graders at a cost of $100 for the week.

Action Items presented and approved were the Budget Amendment; June Early Testing Proposal; Application approval for At-Risk Supper Meals program; West Bladen Skills USA fundraising application; and an overnight field trip for the Migrant Education Program to UNCW. The Board also approved the personnel report and student transfer requests.

Dr. Taylor asked the Board to appoint an Ad Hoc committee to finalize the plans for consolidation so that the plan can be shared with the County Commissioners. Board members decided on utilizing the full board to serve as the committee.

An updated was provided by Dr. Taylor regarding the FEMA and Insurance reimbursements. FEMA will reimburse the schools in the amount of $22,300 and insurance reimbursement for $51,000 will cover a portion of property insurance losses.

Board member Chris Clark brought up the issue that the maintenance department needs cell phones issued to the department. They are having to use their personal phones to conduct school business. Dr. Taylor stated they would have information for the Board to review on plans and costs at the next meeting.

Board member Barry Lewis would like for Dr. Taylor to address “Dress Down Days” for the schools at the next meeting. He has had several principals ask about it and he feels it is a good motivator for the students.

Dr. Taylor reminded the Board of the Parent University Night at BCC on Thursday night. Board member Alan West invited everyone out for the Bostic/West Scholarship Fund Pancake Supper from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church. Two Bladen County students will be awarded scholarships to ECU.

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