05/04/05 — Building plan keeps North Duplin open

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Building plan keeps North Duplin open

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 4, 2005 1:50 PM

KENANSVILLE -- The Duplin County Board of Education adopted a building plan Tuesday night that keeps North Duplin High School open and maintains existing school district lines.

Board members approved the $42 million plan unanimously.

Previous proposals had called for closing North Duplin and consolidating its student body with James Kenan High.

The plan approved Tuesday will send some students living in Warsaw to Charity Middle School and some to North Duplin Junior-Senior High School. It calls for building a new high school somewhere between the Guilford East plant on N.C. 11 and the Summerlin's Crossroads area. The new school would be built to accommodate students coming from Warsaw, Kenansville and B.F. Grady middle schools. It would be designed for 745 students and would cost about $30.4 million.

The plan also calls for building a new $10.8 million school for 450 children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade in the B.F. Grady School district. Under the plan, four classrooms and a gym would be added to Charity Middle School.

School Superintendent Tommy Benson said he will try to get on the county commissioners' agenda as soon as possible to present the plan to them.

It has been a year since the Board of Education hired the architectural firm Shueller, Ferris, Lindstrom & Associates to come up with a building plan for the school system. Earlier proposals that would have closed North Duplin ran into stiff opposition from parents and other residents of the district.

Bill Hennessee of Faison, who had opposed closing North Duplin, said the vote was a long time coming.

"Now it's time to move forward," he said.

Reaching a decision on the building plan proved to be a long, difficult process, said Dr. Greg Bounds, also of Faison, who had pleaded with the school board to keep North Duplin High School intact.

Bounds praised school board members and consultants for listening to the concerns of residents in the North Duplin school district.

"It's been a divisive issue, and that's not good for a county," Bounds said. "And no matter what the decision, the board would not have been able to please everybody."