• 1:27 am This Day in History for May 19
  • 1:22 am Bladen County Headlines … 35 Years Ago
  • 1:17 am Obituary: Clarence Angus Ferguson
  • 1:05 am Where Should I Play Golf … And What Does It Cost?
  • 12:57 am Three Bladen Players Named All-Three Rivers Tennis

By Bethany Stephens

The Bladen County Board of Education met Monday night for its monthly session where it recognized several students and schools for various accomplishments.

East Bladen High School and Elizabethtown Middle School both won at the state level for their Breakfast in the Classroom and Second Chance Breakfast programs. Both schools were able to increase the percentage of participation in school breakfast during the past year. East Bladen won second place and were led by their manager, Stephanie Bryan, and their principal, Jason Wray. Elizabethtown Middle won third in the state and was led by manager, Melony Edwards, and their principal, Elizabeth Cole.

Dublin Primary School won this year’s County Level Elementary Battle of the Books Competition. This was also the school’s fourth win in the competition. The following students were part of the winning team: Kimberly Avila-Labra, Trey Benson, Ava Bordeaux, Reagan Hestee, MaKayla Lewis, Skyler Guyton-Brewer, and Brittany Jacob Ortiz. The team was coached by Dublin’s Media Coordinator, Whitney Kinlaw.

The following students were recognized for completing and graduating from the CNA program in conjunction with their Career and Technical Education classes: Morgan Babson, Erika Brigman, Glorimar Cruz Pagan, Abby Dawson, Summer Evers, Aileen Garcia Sanchez, Hayleigh Mark, Deautise Mitchell, Alise Pait, and Bethany Strickland. The students were taught by their Health Occupations Teacher, Mary Todd.

Nineteen students received their ServSafe Certifications under the leadership of Gail Marsh, their Food 2 teacher.

West Bladen had several students that participated in the State FCCLA Conference with two students bringing home top honors. Sandra Maldonaldo competed in the Recycle and Redesign Event where she received a silver medal for her project titled “With Aluminum We CAN.” Autumn Brisson and Alyssa Bell received a gold medal in the Life Event Planning Competitive Event where they designed a dorm room at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their project’s title was “Sweet Carolina Home.” Autumn Brisson also participated at the State Conference in the Chapter Parade of Flags where she carried West Bladen’s FCCLA flag and introduced their chapter on stage. The students were taught by Gail Marsh and Debra Kinlaw.

Plain View Primary won the attendance award in the Elementary School Division; Elizabethtown Middle won in the Middle School Division, and West Bladen High School won in the High School Division.

Sharon Penny, Finance Director, presented a March financial summary for information purposes only. The summary showed that the fund balance was at expected levels.

Lou Nelon gave an update concerning various maintenance projects. Nelon explained that the $110,000 grant to build an Ag Lab/Barn at East Bladen High School is on schedule. The ground for the lab is already prepped and bids are being considered. Extra dirt has been placed in some of the county’s ball fields and extra fencing around the dugout at one of the schools has been installed.

Fundraiser requests and overnight field trip requests were both approved via a consent agenda given to the board members prior to the meeting.

Coastal Horizons was approved to provide day treatment services at Elizabethtown Middle School as recommended by Cheryl White-Smith, Exceptional Children Director. A Child Nutrition Procurement Plan was also approved as recommended by Amy Stanley, Child Nutrition Director.

The board approved to purchase 350 Chrome Books to serve the 6th grade using Title One and federal funds. Following the purchase of the Chrome books, the County’s 1:1 Initiative will now be implemented in grades 6-12, and 5th graders will have 1:2.5 ratio of tablets to students to use.

Teacher Contract Terms as recommended by Antonia Beatty, Personnel Director, were approved. Additionally, Dennis Troy was approved to represent Bladen County Schools on the BCC advisory board. Following all of the above, the board proceeded to go into closed session to discuss personnel, student transfers, and legal issues.

Upon reconvening into open session, the board heard several notes of interest from Robert Taylor, Superintendent. A budget committee meeting will take place on April 23rd at 4:30 to be followed by another meeting at 6 with the Board of Commissioners’ Chair and the county manager. Vinston Rozier, Berry Lewis, Tim Benton, and Glenn McKoy are the Board of Education members currently serving on the budget committee.

A full update regarding implementation of an Early College at Bladen Community College will be presented in May. Forty-five student applicants have been accepted so far with maximum enrollment of 60. Nicole Dove is serving as the program’s liaison.

Data concerning the makeup and demographics at Clarkton School of Discovery was outlined – especially pertaining to Project Challenge.

Project Challenge serves academically gifted students from across the county at Clarkton. Currently there are 63 students enrolled in Project Challenge with four teachers serving them. In addition to Project Challenge, application students from across the county can apply to attend CSD in grades 6 through 8. There are 55 application students currently attending the school from outside of Clarkton’s district.

When the school was opened several years ago, an enrollment cap of 350 was implemented, but there hasn’t been a waiting list in the last six years due to declining enrollment in public schools in general. There are 221 students total currently enrolled at the school.

Without students coming in from out of district via Project Challenge and application students, enrollment would only be 116 students.

While moving application students back to their home districts has been briefly considered over the years, it was mentioned that doing so could easily cause Clarkton’s school to not have enough students to remain open. This would especially be a concern since one of the board’s main goals in recent consolidations was to keep a school in each of the county’s communities.

Transportation-wise, five busses are currently shared with Booker T. Washington Primary to pick up students both in and out of district. Out of district applicants can be picked up as long as they are on the routes where Project Challenge students live since the busses are funded by Exceptional Children’s funds.