East moves West

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

JACKSON – Northampton County Superintendent of Public Schools Monica Smith-Woofter said late last week that the Board of Education is implementing Option 4 of its “The Way Forward Plan” for the 2016-17 school year that starts in August.

In this modified plan. Woofter said the Creeksville campus of Northampton County High School will be closed. High school aged students will attend classes at the former location of NCHS-West in Gaston.

Willis Hare Elementary and Conway Middle will remain open in the eastern portion of the county. Woofter said Willis Hare will be open for grades pre-K through 4th grade and Conway Middle will be open for grades 5-8.

Central Elementary in Jackson is open for pre-K through 4th and Gaston Elementary would house students in grades 2-8 from the west side of the county

Squire Elementary would house pre-K, Kindergarten, and first grade students, high school students preparing for the Early College program at Halifax Community College, and an alternative learning center.

Woofter said the school district is already one-third of the way to transferring Northampton County High School operations from the Creeksville campus to its new address in Gaston.

“We have already started moving classrooms,” Woofter said. “Everything will be ready to go by August first.”

She said early college students (at Squire) will start school the second week of August. Teachers at the other schools will return the third week of August.

Students with college credit, not in the early college, will start school in the third week of August. Regular school will start the fourth week of August.

Woofter said parents should already be notified of the changes, but said in mid-July the district and schools will be making phone calls to all parents in the district to remind and inform them.

There will also be new school hours for all students. High school students will attend from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. instead of 8-3.

Other students will attend from 8 a.m. until 3:20 p.m.

The Board of Education approved Option 4 earlier this year, but the county commissioners refused to provide the $1.4 million in funding the BOE requested to pay for it. The movement of high school students to Gaston was also met by heavy opposition from the general public during two meetings held several months ago.

At the county’s budget hearing last week, County Manager Kimberly Turner said the school district got $800,000 more in county funding than last year. Part of that increase is the result of last summer’s mediation agreement between the two boards.

Turner said in this year’s budget the county appropriates $4.5 million to the Northampton County School System: $3.7 million in current expense, $795,000 for capital outlay, and $70,000 from fines and forfeitures.

Woofter said the original request for $1.4 million was mostly for capital outlay to meet needs at Willis Hare and Conway Middle, not to move students.

About $500,000 of those funds would have been used to upgrade the football field in Gaston, but since those changes are not funded, football games will be played at Roy F. Lowry Field on the Creeksville campus.