02/03/04 — School board under pressure

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School board under pressure

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 3, 2004 2:03 PM

The Wayne County school board is facing pressure from all sides to put a bond referendum on the table to fund construction projects. But don't count on it to pass unless there is something for everybody.

Groups from Grantham and Mount Olive are continuing their efforts to get high schools in their communities. Also attending Monday night's board meeting was the Concerned Clergy, which wants a new high school and magnet school program in Goldsboro.

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, speaking for the Concerned Clergy, said the clergy applauds what has been accomplished by the school system but produced test scores from the N.C. School Report Card to show that the failure rate in central Goldsboro schools is higher than other schools in the county and in the state.

Barber said that for things to stay as they are not only hurts students but the county's economy. He said it would set the course for a potential legal battle that could cost thousands of dollars.

"We would be willing to ask the community to forgo calling for total redistricting in a legal manner at the time being as a solution for the defacto segregation that now exists in our county and to help generate public support for new bond spending," he said, if the county commissioners and school board would comply with their proposal.

The proposal calls for public hearings on the 10-year school system spending plan, a written commitment to build a new Goldsboro-Dillard magnet high school within the city, development of feeder magnet schools in that area, and a commitment to leave district lines as they are, with no transfer policy.

Sylvia Barnes, president of the Goldsboro-Wayne branch of the NAACP, said there are many issues that need to be resolved in the county as long as segregated schools exist.

"We'll not vote for a bond that will not guarantee building a new high school in Goldsboro and implementation of the magnet school program," she said. "But we'll file suit that will guarantee that all children are receiving a first-class education in Wayne County."

Barber said his group plans to have forums in churches in the area to gather support.

James Cox, spokesman for Grantham's high school movement, said the group also plans a pep rally in the community and a fund-raising effort in April, and is investigating land requirements for a school.

He asked the board to push forward on the movement toward bringing back community schools and to move forward so that the issue of a bond referendum could be included by county commissioners in time for the November election.

Glenn Futrell said he went to school in Grantham when it had a high school, graduating in 1959.

"When you grow up in a community, I think it's one of the best environments there is to raise a child," he said. "If you go to a larger school, it doesn't necessarily mean you get to know more people."

He said that education puts people on equal footing with everyone and encouraged the board to strongly consider bringing the high school back to Grantham.

Lynn Williams, spokesman for Mount Olive's high school movement, said that there is excitement about the possibility of having one high school for one community. She said support has been sought from the Carver Alumni Association, Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce and the town board.

"We urge you to move forward to put together a facilities plan for all of Wayne County, and that includes Mount Olive," she told the board.

Board member John Grantham said he hoped there would be enough support to get a bond referendum put on the table.

"If everybody got hit with a tax bill like I did this past year, we could build a university," he said.

Other than that comment, the school board refrained from discussion on the school construction plan.