A Staff Report
Elizabethtown, NC – In a groundbreaking move, the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy (PRBLA), the state’s sole public charter military school, has secured $70,000 in funding for the renovation of its school gymnasium. This historic decision was ratified during the Bladen County Commissioners’ meeting held on Monday, September 18, 2023, marking a significant milestone for the institution.
PRBLA, located in Elizabethtown, has steadfastly committed to serving its student body, comprising 95% economically disadvantaged individuals. Dr. Jason Wray, a former U.S. Army warrant officer, JROTC instructor, and principal, has helmed the institution as its superintendent since January 2022.
Dr. Wray is a strong advocate for the school. At the first September Board meeting, he explained to the commissioners why the charter school deserves support. On a local level, the PRBLA color guard is present at each Town council meeting, presenting the colors, and all their cadets participate and serve in local parades and other events.
“This is what we do on a national level,” Dr. Wray said, “When we go to national competitions, we tell everyone that we are from Bladen County. We were 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 National Champions.” The school always promotes Bladen County in a positive light.
The school needs assistance with the gymnasium. There is a big hole in the gym floor, Dr. Wray told the commission board. The commission board tabled the decision to provide funds to the local charter school at this month’s first meeting.
At Monday’s meeting, county commissioners saw the presence of distinguished individuals, including North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis and Dr. Olivia Oxendine, a State Board of Education member. Their attendance underscored the collective support for PRBLA.
According to the North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools, what sets this allocation apart as a historic achievement is that PRBLA is the first charter school in the state to receive direct facility funds from county commissioners. This unprecedented funding opportunity stems from a recently enacted law, passed during the late summer, and resulted from advocacy efforts by the North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools.
The significance of these funds cannot be overstated. PRBLA is a pillar of its local community, using its facilities to host a diverse range of activities, including camps, town council meetings, and more. The financial injection provided by the county commissioners promises to breathe new life into the school’s gymnasium, enhancing its role as a hub for both educational and community-based initiatives.
The passage of this law, coupled with the allocation of funds, is a testament to the enduring commitment of community stakeholders and the dedication of PRBLA’s leadership. As these funds begin to make an impact, it is clear that they will not only enrich the charter school but also have far-reaching benefits for the local community.
This historic moment calls for hearty congratulations to the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy, Superintendent Jason Wray, and all those involved in making this significant achievement possible. It sets a remarkable precedent for charter schools throughout the state and demonstrates the power of advocacy and community support in driving positive change.
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View the commissioners’ meeting on the County of Bladen’s YouTube Channel linked below.