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J.P. Law targeted for closure

WINDSOR – Are there additional changes down the road for the Bertie County Public School system?

Apparently, the answer is yes.

While county school officials comply with a federal court order to tweak its attendance zones n a move to bring racial balance, particularly at Askewville Elementary n the future may hold the closing of one of the county's oldest schools n J.P. Law Elementary in Merry Hill.

In a press release, Bertie School officials announced that the United States Department of Justice has raised concern about the state of the facilities at J.P. Law. The school first opened in 1961 and was named in honor of its first principal, John Page Law.

Kelley Carey, an expert hired by the Department of Justice, concluded in a report that J.P. Law is beyond its useful lifespan and recommended its closure.

As part of his consent order, signed June 21, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle ruled that the Bertie County Board of Education is required to conduct an independent assessment of its facilities. That assessment is to be completed by November 1.

Judge Boyle ordered the assessment include the projected lifespan of each facility, the capacity of each school to provide the programs needed for the students, the economic feasibility and wisdom of renovating any facilities that are in poor condition and strategic alternatives to the current assignment of students, including options designed to provide cost savings to the system.

Based upon those findings and recommendations, the Bertie School Board is required to submit to the Department of Justice an amended proposed Student Assignment Plan in January of next year.