Need for new high school discussed

Published 9:59 am Friday, November 23, 2012

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Education is planning to meet with the County Board of Commissioners regarding the funding of a new high school.

On Monday, the board voted to request a meeting with the commissioners in order to express the need for a new centrally located high school and to request assistance in obtaining that objective.

Prior to the vote, Board Vice Chair Erica Smith-Ingram requested the agenda be amended to include discussion about an appeal to the county commissioners regarding the funding of a new high school.

Ingram noted the matter was a follow up to the previous board meeting in October when she along with fellow Board of Education member Clinton Williams expressed concerns regarding the conditions at the existing Northampton County High School.

“I also know that there are other schools in our district that are showing significant wear and tear, and my major concern is the safety and the health and the well-being of our students as well as our staff,” she said.

Ingram said she had “deep concerns” that in 2012 Northampton County Schools still had their students in some of the worse buildings in the district. She added she had learned Willis-Hare Elementary School is “not in the greatest shape.”

“But at this moment we need to put forth a very earnest effort,” Ingram continued. “It is our responsibility to appeal to the county commissioners, but it is their responsibility to help meet us in the middle of the road by providing adequate funding.”

She said the school board had discussions over the last five years regarding a new high school.

“I think at this point we need to put forth a very strategic approach to the county commissioners, look at the community for support because this school is much needed,” Ingram said. “I do think it’s unconscionable and it’s almost appalling to have our students in some of the conditions I have seen them in on these campuses. So for the sake of our children we need to push forth with the political wheel as well as every strategy we can garner to go before the county commissioners and get this new high school funded.”

Following Ingram’s statement, board member Phil Matthews moved to request a joint meeting with the commissioners and for the school board and administration to express to the county commissioners of the need for a new centrally located high school and request assistance in obtaining the objective.

Marjorie Edwards offered a second to the motion.

During discussion, Williams said he was in favor of the comments made by Ingram and Matthews, but he wanted the two boards to sit down and come up with a resolution.

“I wouldn’t want to be overly assertive or aggressive in this approach, but I’m concerned about some of the language as we approach this about how we are looking at what we’re going to do,” he said. “Mr. Matthews, I think it’s great to request that assistance, but at this point I believe we need to move forward—for lack of a better term—in an assertive way to make this happen. I don’t think we’ve been as assertive as we need to in this particular issue.”

The board approved Matthews’ motion unanimously.