NAACP responds to school merger

Published 10:16 am Monday, February 20, 2012

JACKSON — The Northampton County Branch of the NAACP is letting their stance be known on the consolidation of Northampton County’s two public high schools.

On Thursday, Northampton County NAACP President Bennett Taylor provided the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald with a press release, which states where the organization stands on the Northampton County Board of Education’s decision to merge Northampton County High School-West in Gaston into Northampton County High School-East located in Creeksville.

Taylor said he attended the presentations last year held by the Board of Education. Those presentations conducted by Assistant Superintendent Phil Matthews touched on the school district’s declining enrollment and the severe funding cuts the school system had experienced on local and state levels.

Taylor said after listening to those presentations he understood the need for something to be done.

“No matter where the children are they need a quality education,” he said. “We expect the school board to do what they have to do so the children can be competitive in a global economy.”

The press release states that since some members of the Northampton County NAACP have seen the board’s proposal, they would like to respond.

“In these economic times, on paper, it may be the right thing to do in order to improve the offering of classes in the schools,” the release states. “But, we ask, is it the right thing to do? Can we keep both high schools and achieve a high quality education now?”

“The NAACP understands the concerns of consolidating our high schools. It is unfortunate that the closing of either high school will result in a longer bus ride for some of our children. Also building a new school will have some of the same effects. However, we know the environment and your surroundings does affect your attitude and your attitude does have an affect on your learning.”

The statement continues, “If consolidating the two high schools will bring about positive changes in provisions for our students, then the Board must remember that the improvements must be for the betterment of our students’ future and not about the conveniences of the adults.

“It is unfortunate that the closing of either high school will result in hardships for parents and students, but if it does happen we hope the benefits to our children will far outweigh any inconveniences.”

The press release reads that it is the Northampton County Branch of the NAACP’s hope that school officials along with the Northampton County Board of Commissioners will continue working toward building a new centrally located high school in the near future.

“We must continue to press forward for the completion of funding under the Leandro vs. State of North Carolina (1997). This North Carolina Constitution mandate guarantees ‘every child of this state an opportunity to receive a sound, basic education in our public schools’, regardless of whether that child is from an affluent or poor community. It also states that each child has a constitutional right to a quality education in reading, writing, math, speaking, and scientific skills and knowledge that will ‘enable the student to compete on an equal basis with others in future formal education or gainful employment in contemporary society’.”

The release concludes, “Regardless of what the Northampton County Board of Education decides, ALL students MUST be given a QUALITY EDUCATION, no matter which school they attend. It is for this reason the NAACP strongly believes that all schools in the county must provide the highest standard of excellence in academics, personnel, resources, facilities, extracurricular activities and fiscal funding to afford our students better opportunities to become productive, successful citizens.”