08/11/06 — Duplin schools ready for students

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Duplin schools ready for students

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 11, 2006 1:48 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County students head back to the public schools Aug. 25 and although some students might not be looking forward to the day, new school superintendent Dr. Wiley Dobey says he is excited.

"It's an exciting time to have the teachers and the students back, just the whole atmosphere of starting school and the fall sporting programs, the bands and just to get back into the classroom," Dobey said. "We've been preparing for this all summer."

Dobey held a three-day retreat this week with the school system staff to discuss the systems' goals and his expectations for the year.

He said he was impressed with the support for education that he has encountered since starting work in the spring. A large number of parents and other school supporters attended a public meeting held by county commissioners on school funding. The public presence helped convince commissioners to increase school funding, Dobey said.

But he noted that Duplin's schools still are in need of more money. Dobey had asked the county for $10 million for the schools this year. Commissioners appropriated $6.5 million. That is $500,000 more than the previous year, he said, but still far from what the schools need.

"I know $10 million sounds like a very large increase, which it is. But that request showed what we really need in terms of additional funding for buildings upkeep and facility improvements -- and many are in vast need of improvement -- additional personnel and additional programs. I feel the request was an accurate reflection of what our needs are."

Dobey said he expects about 9,000 to be present on the first day of school but that the exact number is hard to predict, especially with increasing numbers of people moving to the county.

"We expect an increase, but it's hard to tell how much," he said, adding that school officials should have an accurate count of students within the first few days of class.

Some of the returning students will see new faces in the principals' office at their schools.

Kenneth Houston, who was the principal at Warsaw Middle School, is the new principal at James Kenan High School. Leon Kea, who is new to the school system, is now the principal at Warsaw Middle School. Daren Tyndall is the new principal at Warsaw Elementary School.

The central administrative office in Kenansville has some new faces, too. Dr. Candace Turk, who had been personnel director, is the new assistant superintendent for human resources and operations. Tarla Smith, who was coordinator of vocational education, is now director of career and technical education.

Dr. Randall Shaver, another newcomer to the Duplin system, is the new associate superintendent for academics and administration.

Carolyn Olivarez is the new chief finance officer for the school system and Bobby Norwood will take over for retired maintenance director Kermit Holland.

Dobey said he also hopes to see some changes in curriculum. He said he would like to see more high school students take advanced placement courses.

Orientation will be held Aug. 22 at 5 p.m. at Kenansville Elementary School, Aug. 23 at 5 p.m. at B.F. Grady and at 4 p.m. at James Kenan High, North Duplin Elementary and Warsaw Middle School. Orientation will be held Aug. 24 at 11 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. at North Duplin Junior-Senior High School and at 4 p.m. at Warsaw Middle School.