04/06/05 — North Duplin spared in new building plan

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North Duplin spared in new building plan

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 6, 2005 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- The Duplin County Board of Education is considering a school building plan that doesn't call for closing North Duplin High School.

Three previous plans offered by consultants would shut down the school and consolidate its students with those attending James Kenan High School at a new, larger school.

About 100 parents attended a school board meeting Tuesday night. Representatives of a Fayetteville engineering firm that has been working on the plans presented the new proposal.

Viewing Duplin School Plan

News-Argus/Bonnie Edwards

Mike Davis, left, a B.F. Grady parent, and Robbie Blanchard, a Kenansville parent, look at new school plan.

After hearing complaints from the parents of North Duplin students, the school board had asked engineers with Shueller, Ferris, Lindstrom & Associates to go back to the drawing board.

Several parents of North Duplin students who opposed the first three plans said they much prefer the fourth alternative.

"I love this alternative plan," said Donnie Taylor.

The newest version of the building plan would send some students in Warsaw to Charity Middle School and North Duplin Junior-Senior High School.

It also calls for building a new high school somewhere between the Guilford East plant on N.C. 11 and the Summerlin's Crossroads area for students coming from Warsaw, Kenansville and B.F. Grady middle schools. It would be designed to house 745 students and would cost about $30.4 million.

A new $10.8 million school for 450 children in kindergarten through second grade would also go up in the B.F. Grady District. Charity Middle School would get four more classrooms and a gym.

Not everyone liked the new proposal.

Warsaw Mayor Winn Batten said the school board needs to go ahead and make a decision to relieve overcrowding in the schools in his community. He said he preferred the first plan offered by the consultants. It would have created more classroom space as early as next year, he said.

"I'm not opposed to this alternative plan," he said. "But I would like to see something happen this next school year at Warsaw Middle School. I don't know how long it would take to build a new high school."

Alice Scott asked the school board to give parents time to absorb the information presented Tuesday night.

The county could pay for the new school construction by issuing certificates of participation or floating bonds. Annual payments would be about $2.8 million.

But the school board was also given a new option for financing. The engineers said an operational lease system would cost the county $2.4 million a year. The county would lease the buildings for a time and then buy them.