02/03/05 — Duplin school plan draws mixed comments at meeting

View Archive

Duplin school plan draws mixed comments at meeting

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 3, 2005 2:07 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County residents had a chance Tuesday night to express their feelings about a school needs study.

Some like it. Some don't.

About 70 people attended a meeting of the Duplin County Board of Education at Kenansville Elementary School. Six people spoke about the study.

Three plans designed to alleviate overcrowding at some schools, keep busing to a minimum and provide racial balance were presented to the school board in January. They were drawn up by the consulting firm of Shueller, Ferris, Lindstrom & Associates of Fayetteville.

Each of the three plans calls for doing away with North Duplin High School.

Dr. Greg Bounds of the North Duplin district said he feels the study was not an objective one. He said he had asked the board in December to include a compromise plan presented by parents in the three school districts of North Duplin, B.F. Grady and Warsaw.

That plan was not included in the report.

"Was that not biased?" he asked. "We feel the consultants have an agenda for consolidation."

Bounds said the only consideration made in the study was race. He said the consultants said they didn't study any details about student achievement or transportation costs.

Bounds said he recommended moving the North Duplin district line closer to Warsaw and drawing in more black students from the Bowdens and Jones crossroads areas. "The kids there live close enough to feel a part of our community," he said.

He said Duplin County's population is going to become predominantly black and Hispanic in the future. The day a new B.F. Grady High School opens its doors, it will be predominantly Hispanic, he said, because of demographic trends already in place. Eventually, Bounds said, every school in the county will have a majority of minority students.

"North Duplin is 60 percent white now, but my son in the first grade is a minority," said Bounds. He said his son's class is predominantly black and Hispanic.

"White people just as well get comfortable with it or move," he said. "I'm comfortable with it as long as it's my community."

Jim Harris of the Warsaw district reminded the board it has received four reports in the past that were never acted on, and they should act on this one. He said the board hired the consultant to give guidance, and the board has all the information it needs to make a decision.

They need to decide," he said, "and let's move on."

Emily Manning, the chairman of the Duplin County Board of Education, said she is not ready to comment about any of the plans. She said she doesn't know how long it will take for the board to reach a consensus.

"I hope it's not a long time," she said, "because we do need to do something."

"We don't want to push something down people's throats," she said. "But there's no way we're going to please everybody whatever we do."