Opinions vary on school closings

Published 10:05 am Thursday, May 7, 2009

JACKSON — A little less than a week after their decision to close three schools and reorganize others, the Northampton County Board of Education agree it’s time to pull together for the county as a whole.

On Monday night at the Board of Education’s regular meeting, Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy reflected on the decision during his report to the board.

Bracy said the past few months have been very difficult for both the school system and the community, but there is a need to pull together and get the schools on the right track.

“We are not east or west Northampton County Schools; we are one county, that is who we are,” he said. “That is our long term plan to build a new high school…There will be a day where there is one Northampton County high school.”

Bracy noted the importance of unity as end of year testing is nearing for students.

“Folks, our children need your continued support,” he said.

He encouraged parents to volunteer at area schools and wished students’ luck on the upcoming exams.

“We believe in you,” Bracy said.

When he was finished, Board member Erica Smith-Ingram countered Bracy’s statements on unity.

When the Board made their decision regarding the school closures/consolidations last Thursday, Ingram voiced her support for a different option that would have organized both eastern and western county schools with the same grades.

“What’s good for the east is good for the west,” she said.

Ingram noted fellow board member Marjorie Edwards’ concern with seventh and eighth graders being in the same facility as high school students at Northampton County High School-West (NCHS-West).

Ingram also pointed out that second graders would be attending the current Gaston Middle School with sixth graders.

In the end, Ingram said she was going to support the decision the board made.

“We will be nothing if we do not start making data-based decisions,” she said.

Board member Charles Tyner said his vote didn’t have to do with east or west, but rather what was best for the students.

Tyner noted NCHS-West, being a newer building, is no comparison to Northampton County High School (NCHS)-East.

“(NCHS) East needs to be torn down,” he said. “Why bring seventh and eight graders there?”

The seventh and eighth graders will stay at Conway Middle School, which is a newer structure.

Tyner reiterated board members made their decision based on the facts given to them.

Board Chair Grace Edwards said the board made its decision and it was time to move forward.

“We want to make it understood that we are one county,” she said. “We need to work closely together…Let’s put our thinking caps on and work together for the good of our children.”

Last week the board handed down its decision on school closures and consolidations. The option chosen by the board includes the closure of Rich Square W.S. Creecy Elementary, Garysburg Elementary and the Alternative School.