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By Charlotte Smith

The Bladen County Board of Education held a regularly scheduled meeting on January 9, 2023. After the invocation was given, students from Dublin Primary led the Pledge of Allegiance. The students were presented with certificates of appreciation for their leadership. 

Chairman Tim Benton called for approval of the minutes for the December 12, 2022, meeting. The minutes of the December meeting were approved with no discussion. 

During the spotlight and recognition portion of the meeting, Dr. Jason Atkinson, Bladen County Schools Superintendent, presented several certificates of appreciation. Schools that exceeded or met academic growth last year were presented with certificates signed by the State Superintendent. 

Dr. Atkinson first announced the Schools that exceeded academic growth. They were West Bladen High School, under the leadership of Dr. Peggy Hester, Clarkton School of Discovery, under the leadership of Mrs. Heather Thompson, and Bladenboro Middle School under the leadership of Vanessa Ruffin. 

Next, the schools that were recognized for meeting academic growth, according to Dr. Atkinson, were Bladen Lakes Primary under the leadership of Ms. Jennifer Marlowe, East Arcadia Elementary under the leadership of Mr. David Wimert, East Bladen High School under the leadership of Ms. Georgia Spaulding, Plainview Primary, under the leadership of Mr. Jason Fulton, Tar Heel Middle School, under the leadership of Ms. Teresa Coleman, and Bladen Early College, under the leadership of Mrs. Susan Cheshire. 

During the spotlights portion of the meeting, Dr. Atkinson resolved January as School Board Appreciation Month and presented each Board member with a certificate of appreciation and “a tube” of gifts from the different Bladen County Schools. 

Some of the gifts were unique to the schools in the area. West Bladen High School gave each Board member a trophy created by the students using their 3D printer. Tar Heel Middle School presented each Board member with a piece of overlay art made by the students. 

Bladen County Schools also recognized the Board Attorney, Mr. Gary Grady.

“It is nice to feel appreciated,” Chairman Benton stated. 

After the commendations were presented, Mr. Mike Burriss, Program Manager with MBP (McDonough Bolyard Peck), gave an update on the Tar Heel School Construction Project. View the report Burris reviewed here: Tar Heel Construction Project updatre 2022-12-31 Monthly Report and the PCO Log for Dec 2022.

According to the update, currently, the project is about one million dollars under budget. Some Board members requested information on what it would take to build another facility on the property for sports training and equipment storage. Burriss confirmed he and his staff would meet any building requests the Board requires. 

Consent items for fundraising and field trips were approved unanimously. 

On the agenda under action item 11.01, there were 31 Fall Custom Policy Updates documents for the Board to consider for approval. Remote Board Meetings, Student Safety, Code of Ethics, Graduation Requirements, Operation of School Nutrition Services, Student Behavior, COVID-19 response, Technology in the Educational Program, and School Meal and Competitive Foods Standards are only some of the updated policies that were up for approval in the 31 documents presented in the Fall Custom Policy Updates. However, the Board voted unanimously to remove the Fall Custom Policy Updates from the agenda. All the documents are listed in Bladen County School Board Docs for the public to review. 

Next, the Board approved the Star Telephone WAN Contract Change. Dr. Atkinson explained that the change only refers to the contract date, which will end next year. 

Agenda item 11.03 Special Custom Policy Update: Policy 7241, with updates to the Drug and Alcohol Testing of Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators Policy, was approved unanimously by the Board. 

Then the Board made a motion to go into closed session to discuss personnel, as per NCGS 143.318.11, (a) (1), to consult with an attorney, if needed, as per NCGS 143.318.11 (a) (3), and to discuss student reassignment/discipline, per the 1974 Family Rights and Privacy Act.

When the Board returned to the open session, Board member Gary Rhoda motioned for the Board to approve a personnel action item discussed in the closed session. One member of the Board recused himself from the vote. The action item was approved by the other Board members unanimously. There was no discussion on what the approved personnel item pertained to for Bladen County Schools. 

View the meeting on the Bladen Live Stream YouTube channel linked below:

The Bladen County Board of Education members and their contact information are as follows:

 Mr. Tim Benton 

246 Lee Street 

Bladenboro, NC 28320 



Mr. Chris Clark 

3036 Bull Street 

Garland, NC 28441 



Mr. Harfel Davis 

405 West Street 

Elizabethtown, NC 28337 



Mr. Dennis Edwards 

25 Shell Drive 

Elizabethtown, NC 28337 



Mr. Steve Kwiatkowski 

246 Council Baptist Church Road 

Council, NC 28434 



Mr. Keith Locklear 

260 Grays Lane 

White Lake, NC 28337 



Mr. Glenn McKoy 

11680 Rosindale Road 

Council, NC 28434 



Mr. Gary Rhoda 

615 South Hill Street 

Elizabethtown, NC 28337 



Mr. Mackie Singletary 

1195 Singletary Mill Pond Road 

Bladenboro, NC 28320 


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