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Traditional Calendar Approved for Bladen County Schools

by Joy Warren
The Bladen County Board of Education met Tuesday evening for a special called meeting to discuss the school calendar for 2019-20.  Prior to discussion of the calendar action item, citizens were allowed to address the board.  The only participant was White Lake Mayor Goldston Womble.  Womble spoke in opposition to the Year Round calendar.  He indicated that he spoke with Associate Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, Dr. Don Phipps.  “Cumberland County starts on Aug 31, has exams prior to Christmas… they can make it work, why can’t we do the same in Bladen County?” questioned Womble.  He reminded the board that the lake has a 12 week season and asked the board to give due consideration to staying with the traditional calendar.  He also question whether or not the proposed draft calendar would meet the guidelines of the state law definition of a Year-Round school.
Jason Atkinson presented information on two Draft Calendars.  Calendar A would have teachers returning to school on August 5th and an end date of May 21st.  The calendar would include 180 days of instruction or 1050 hours.  Dr. Taylor informed the board that he did speak with Dr. Phipps about their calendar.  With their calendar, non-instructional staff were affected due to the decrease in days.  Also additional time would have to be added to primary schools to get them up to 1025 instructional hours. Dr. Taylor stated that “every school system is different based on the adjustments that would have to made to instructional time, non-instructional staff, and shared buses throughout the county.”
Draft B calendar had an August 19th start date and ending date of May 22nd.  It is only 175 days so 10 additional minutes would have to be added to Primary level and Middle schools as they share buses.
A motion was made to approve Draft A.  A tie vote of 4 to 4 on two different votes kept this calendar from passing.  The vote on Draft B failed to pass with a 5 to 3 vote against.  Board Member McKoy asked if any of the principals would give their opinion on the matter.  Peggy Hester, Principal of West Bladen stated that Draft A would benefit the high schools as it would align their schedule with the community colleges.  After much discussion, Dr. Taylor stated that the schools were on a time crunch and needed a calendar for scheduling classes and athletic events for next year.  He recommended that they stay with the Traditional calendar. The board unanimously approved the Traditional calendar for another year.
The Board will meet on April 8th at 6:00 p.m. in closed session to discuss Dr. Taylor’s evaluation.
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