Let’s shelve the high school drama

Published 8:25 am Thursday, June 27, 2013

It’s time for some accountability from the Northampton County Board of Education.

It’s time this board explains why there is no long term plan yet to construct a centrally located high school.

As long as I have covered Northampton County, there has been talk for the need of a new high school. I don’t think anyone in the community can argue against that.

On Saturday, the board received an updated Facilities Study from a representative from SFL+a. In that study, most of the favorable options suggested constructing a centrally located high school.

The document also cited a good portion of the schools in poor condition, including Northampton County High School which was described as a “borderline” school, one that could last a just a few more years at most.

The need is definitely there, but with the current board, which is well aware of the situation, the issue has gone nowhere.

On Saturday, the board decided by majority (4-2 with one member absent), again, to reconfigure the schools, which included:

– Closing the Northampton Alternative School without a replacement building.

– Reconfiguring Squire Elementary School (currently Pre-K and Kindergarten) to Pre-K through 2nd grades.

– Reconfiguring Gaston Elementary (currently 1st-4th) to grades 3-6.

-Reconfiguring Gaston Middle School (currently grades 5-8) to 7th through 12th grades.

– All other schools will remain the same.

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.

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.

So basically, they have split the county into east and west again. They’ve slapped a proverbial Band-Aid on the issue at hand…again.

It’s a vicious cycle with this board, one that is hurting the students, teachers, staff, parents and the community.

Last year, it was the same way. There were public hearings and meetings over busing high school students from west to east. After that decision was made, the money used to upgrade what was then Northampton County High School-East—there was only little talk of what the school district could do next in planning for the long-term.

The only whisper of it was a meeting with the Northampton County Board of Commissioners who gave the school board a path to build a centrally located high school.

Would it have happened over night? No, but it would have happened in the future. It was a way for students to go to one high school that was located conveniently for all.

The funding issue is there, as it is with everything in this area. Everyone who lives here knows this is not Raleigh or Charlotte, but you will not get anywhere being stagnant and doing nothing about the issue.

If nothing is done, there will be a continuation of moving students back and forth between schools.

Unfortunately, the centrally located high school has not been on the agenda for these board members. Rather, drama is the theme.

The drama overwhelms each meeting, and leaves this board weak in everything they do.

After their latest decision, the public needs to demand a future plan of action for their school district.

It may not be a fast fix, but there needs to be foresight once again on the Northampton County Board of Education.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.