JACKSON – After a seven-hour meeting, the Northampton County Board of Education has reconfigured the school district again.
On Saturday, the board decided for the 2013-14 school year to:
– Close the Northampton Alternative School. There will be no replacement building.
– Reconfigure Squire Elementary School (currently Pre-K and Kindergarten) to Pre-K through 2nd grades.
– Reconfigure Gaston Elementary (currently 1st-4th) to grades 3-6.
– Reconfigure Gaston Middle School (currently grades 5-8) to 7th through 12th grades.
– All other schools will remain the same.
The motion was placed on the floor by Board Vice Chair Erica Smith-Ingram and seconded by Clinton Williams. It was approved in a 4 to 2 vote with Phil Matthews and Donald Johnson objecting. Board member Marjorie Edwards was absent from the meeting.
The two high schools will remain under the same name, Northampton County High School, and the will continue their sport programs as one school. The board and administration will sort out more details at their next meeting scheduled for Monday, July 1.
Furthermore the board voted unanimously to have Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy to bring forth the redistricting of school lines at their next regular meeting for the reconfigurations.
The board began their Saturday with a closed session at 9 a.m. before open session started at 10 a.m. with Robbie Ferris of SFL+a Architects presenting an updated facilities feasibility study.
Ferris said six options were evaluated in detail with two options (number three and five) having the highest scores.
In the end, option three was recommended to the school board, which declined it.
Option number three would have done the following:
– Close Squire Elementary, Willis Hare Elementary; and re-district those students.
– Close Northampton County High School and construct a new centrally located high school to serve grades 9-12.
– Close the Northampton County Alternative School and construct a new Alternative School for 28 students.
– Central Elementary and GastonElementary schools would serve Pre-K through 2 grades.
– Conway and Gaston middle schools would serve grades 3-8.
The total first cost of this option was $33.8 million.
Ferris noted having a new centrally located high school would improve test scores and student/teacher retention, create a sense of community identity at Conway and Gaston and maximizes the use of existing facilities. This option also has the lowest cost of ownership.
He added the annual cost is not the lowest during the early years, but is relatively low.