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Board of Education Discusses Early College

By Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Education met in a special called meeting on Monday afternoon and discussed the Early College. Berry Lewis was absent from the meeting.

The board opted to form a committee which will meet on November 27 at 4 p.m. to study all of the information and funding options.

Bladen County Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor told the board that Bladen County Schools staff met with Bladen Community College staff in a planning session for the Early College on November 2nd.

“We did discuss a number of things. We talked about the various details of the costs,” said Dr. Taylor.

Funding for the Early College has been approved at a rate of $275,000 per year for a total of $550,000 over a five year period, according to Bladen County Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor. He also noted, that Bladen County Schools does not get any funds until there are students actually enrolled in the program.

“That’s not what was confirmed on the conference call I set in on. Because I asked a question specifically about 2017-18 and we get no money for this year because we have no students. Even though it was allotted we don’t get any money. We don’t get our first money until next August,” said Board of Education member Tim Benton.

“That’s correct,” said Dr. Taylor.

“We’ve still got to hire people,” said Benton. He then asked how Dr. Taylor arrived at the figure of $550,000.

“You’re making it sound like we’ve got more (money) than we do,” said Benton.

Dr. Taylor emphasized to the board the school district will not get the money for the Early College until they have students enrolled in the program. He said Bladen County Schools staff had requested a delayed start for the Early College.

“When we first submitted the application (for Early College), the state had not approved funding (for the Early College),” said Dr. Taylor.

He explained Bladen County was approved for an Early College program in 2016; however, the state had not approved the budget at that time, so in order to study the funding issue and other needs for the program, school staff requested and received a delayed start.

Board of Education member Roger Carroll also expressed concerns regarding funding for the program.

Dr. Taylor told the board the state must provide funding for the Early College in the future. He explained the state has not unfunded an Early College since the program’s inception.

Staffing needs for the Early College were also discussed. There will be an immediate need to hire a Principal and a College Liaison who will need to start in January 2018. There will also be a need for a Guidance Counselor, an Administrative Assistant, and 2.0 teachers, who will both begin their duties on July 1, 2018. By the third year, staff estimate there will be a need for five teachers at the Early College.

Dr. Taylor estimated the board will need to absorb the cost of a Principal and the cost of a College Liaison from now through June 30th.

“Where are we going to get this from?” asked Carroll. Dr. Taylor replied it would come from Local Funds.

Dr. Taylor also told the board the proposed consolidation of schools could also impact the staffing needs at the Early College. He said an option available to the board is to consider reassigning personnel from consolidated schools to the Early College.

Dr. Taylor said when the school district applied for an Early College the district staff committed to admitting 60 students per year to the program. He said Bladen County Schools staff expect the Early College students to be a mixture of students from East Bladen and West Bladen High Schools and home schooled and private school students.

Dr. Taylor said Bladen Community College will pay 100 percent of the facility costs. He said the college is tentatively planning to use Building 17 to house the Early College.

Bladen County Schools Nutrition Director Amy Stanley said the meals for the students at the Early College will be transported twice a day from West Bladen High School to the Bladen Community College campus. She said this will mean a new position at West Bladen High School to assist with meal preparation and transportation. The cost for this plan is projected to be $52,000 for one year and revenues for the lunch program are projected to be $35,000.

Stanley said at this time, the proposal is for students to eat in their classrooms.

Transportation will be provided by two buses—one from East Bladen and one from West Bladen High School.

Dr. Head said the applications for enrollment in the Early College have been created in consultation with Bladen Community College. Each application must include two letters of recommendation form teachers who know the student’s work.

Dr. Head explained the application period for the Early College will begin in January and the deadline will be February 15th. Dr. Head said that by March students who have been accepted to the program will be notified.

Meredith Colville addressed the board and noted the calendar for the Early College will follow the Bladen Community College calendar. The day will begin at 8:30 a.m.and end at 2:30 p.m.

Bladen County Schools Public Relations Director Valerie Newton told the board she had met with Cathy Kinlaw at Bladen Community College they have developed a marketing plan for the Early College.

She also noted that once students are notified they have been accepted, there will be an information session held for parents to assist them with the next steps in enrolling their student at the Early College.

Newton said some of the plans include stories from the students attending the school, creating the schools own website and logos separate from BCC and Bladen County Schools.

After further discussion, it was decided to develop a committee which will consists of Tim Benton, Vinston Rozier, Roger Carroll, Dennis Edwards, and Glenn McKoy. The Committee will meet Dr. Taylor and Dr. Head to further discuss the needs for the Early College.


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