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Bladen School Board Approves Giving Property to Bladen County Youth Focus

By Bethany Stephens

Bladen County SchoolsThe Bladen County Board of Education met Monday for its monthly session where they recognized Dr. Fredrica Renee Steele, a teacher at Elizabethtown Middle School, for being selected to participate in the Friday Institute’s North Carolina Digital Leadership Coaching Network for the 2018-2019 school year.

Robyn Wilson, who is in accounts payable in Finance Department, was recognized for recently graduating from the NCASBO School Business Management Academy.

The board and several members of the school’s past alumni were recognized for being a part in the Bladen County Training School (former location of The School of Extended Hope on Martin Luther Dr.) having been entered into the National Register of Historic Places by the State of North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The building was recognized as historical due to originally being a Rosenwald school. Rosenwald schools were built during the early 20th century to educate African-American students. The building of Rosenwald schools was the result of a partnership between Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington. The Booker T. Washington Primary building in Clarkton is also a Rosenwald school.

The board then heard from Minnie Price, who is president of Bladen County Youth Focus. Price explained that the organization had asked the board twice last year via letter if they would relinquish their rights and ownership of all of the remaining buildings at the former School of Extended Hope plus 10 acres that had been donated for the site in 1928. Upon further discussion, the board approved designating it as excess property as that would be the first step in the process (with three dissenting votes). The County Commissioners now have to approve whatever happens next to the property.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor gave the board several updates concerning the recent preparations taken during Hurricane Florence. Several of the county’s schools served as shelters and housed about 1,000 people and 60 animals during the worst of the storm. Ongoing moisture problems and roof leaks are also being fixed. The board hopes to put new roofs on both of the high schools as both of them have ongoing leaking that the storm exacerbated. The board hopes the County Commissioners will help with the roofing matter.

The board approved adjusting pay for missed days during the hurricane to be in accordance with legislation. The board will not make up the 13 school days, will not lessen teachers’ pay during those days, and will pay those that worked anyway during the days (that worked with the shelters) with FEMA funds if available or by giving them annual leave.

After a brief closed session to discuss legal issues, student transfers, and personnel matters, the board approved a personnel action item. Taylor reminded the board of a custodian appreciation dinner being held Oct. 9 and School Improvement Plan presentations on Oct. 30.

Board member Gary Rhoda asked how many Elizabethtown Middle students were planning on going to Atlanta on a field trip, and Taylor told him he would find out and get back to him.

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