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Board of Education Meets and Addresses Possible Loss of Teacher Positions in Consolidation

By Bethany Stephens

The Board of Education met Monday where they recognized students for earning their FCLA National Certifications, Bladen Community College’s Dual Graduates, Bladen 5 Conference Champions, and three schools for having the highest student attendance during the Month of May.

Sharon Penny, Finance Director, provided a financial summary for information purposes that showed the county’s current finances to be better than formerly expected.

Lou Nelon, Maintenance Director, gave an in-depth overview of planned upgrades to Elizabethtown Primary’s traffic, parking, and drainage systems. The new drainage upgrades will consist of cleaning out existing pipes and using a mixture of installing additional pipes and grading land to direct water flow along the site’s natural swells and fall offs. In addition to the drainage concerns, the plan will include widenening handicap parking, adding a busses only exit off of Elizabeth Drive, additional parking for people parking for short period of times, and better traffic flow around the school in general. Chris Clark, Board Member, wanted Nelon to consider adding an awning going to the handicap drop-off like is installed for other students, and Nelon said he would research it.

A Consent Agenda (which provided no specifics aloud at the meeting) was approved that included fundraiser requests, overnight field trip requests, budget ammendments, and Child Nutriton bids for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Joseph Rozier II was approved to serve on Bladen Community College’s Advisory Board. Fall Custom Policy Updates, a policy on supplemental increase pay for non-certified staff, and CEU requirements were all approved without discussion. Following 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 approved a Personnel Action Item though Chris Clark and Dennis Edwards voted against it. Robert Taylor, Superintendent, outlined several budget scenarios for next year, but none can be solidified until the County Commissioners approve their budget during the last week of June. Taylor also reminded the board of an upcoming retirement dinner, the county’s migrant camp at Bladen Lakes, second chance testing, and activities surrounding the Read to Achieve program. Additionally, due to July 4th, the board’s July meeting was moved to July 16.

A group of teachers concerned about losing their jobs as a result of recently approved school closings and consolidations were also in attendance to find out more information and were recognized by Taylor and the board. The teachers had been told that they would not have to worry about losing employment during the consolidation discussions (even if this meant they would be transferred to another school in the county) but were told last week that their positions were possibly being cut. They were at the meeting to find out what was officially being decided so that they would know if they have to seek other employment for the next school year. As the budget currrently stands, the seven positions will have to be cut if the County Commissioners do not approve either funding the $378,000 for the positions or allow the board to fund the positions using already existing Capital Outlay funds (an option the Board of Education supported but that the commissioners did not). Vinston Rozier, Board Chair, and the board as a whole encouraged the teachers and the community to ask the County Commissioners to reconsider allowing them to fund the teacher’s positions with Capital Outlay Funds even if they couldn’t provide additional funds.

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