Future plans may include old school

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2008

WINDSOR – Can dreams become reality?

That question will be considered by the Bertie County Board of Education over the next few weeks after the body endorsed in spirit a plan from Director of Federal Programs Constance Richardson.

During closing comments of Monday’s board meeting, school board member Emma Johnson asked Richardson what she would do if she had money available.

Richardson wasted no time filling the school board in on her plan.

“I’m glad you asked,” Richardson said. “I would like to see Askewville (Elementary School) opened as a More At Four site.”

Richardson said while C.G. White Preschool and More At Four was working well, its location in the northern end of Bertie County (in Powellsville) meant some children were on the school bus for as much as two hours.

She said her preliminary plans, which she had discussed with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Zullinger, would be to have students from the Windsor and Merry Hill areas moving to the Askewville site and those in the Aulander, Powellsville and Colerain areas remaining at C.G. White.

Richardson said she would also likely move the Even Start (for children ages three and four) program to the site at the former Askewville Elementary. She also told the board CADA (Choanoke Area Development Association) would like to put its Head Start classes at Askewville.

Board member Alton Parker asked Richardson if she had an approximate figure of what it would cost to reopen the school, closed in 2006 to settle a long-standing desegregation federal lawsuit against Bertie County Schools.

Richardson said she didn’t have a figure, but did have reason to believe it would cost less to prepare the Askewville site than the one in Powellsville.

“Most of the classrooms at Askewville are More At Four ready,” Richardson said. “It was an elementary school, so it is more compatible with our needs than C.G. White was.”

She also said the More At Four program received money based on the number of students, so she believed the cost could almost be handled by recruiting students well.

“I like the idea,” Parker said. “I commend you for your planning. We have the facility sitting there, we might as well use it.”

Richardson asked the board if they wanted her to proceed, but was told the board would spend time looking at the cost and discuss it at length at a later time.