02/10/09 — Board will eye changes at some schools

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Board will eye changes at some schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 10, 2009 1:46 PM

School officials are proposing reorganization at several schools in the county, with hopes to consolidate four others in time for the 2009-10 school year.

Wayne County Board of Education was briefed on the plan at its Monday night meeting.

Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, addressed the board about plans to move the fifth grade from Carver Elementary to Mount Olive Middle School.

"We have met with the Advisory Council of Carver and with the Advisory Council of Mount Olive," he said. "We also have spent many hours with the principals. ... For a while we have been studying this and looking at our numbers and even though they're consistent -- between 300 and 328 at Mount Olive, which houses sixth, seventh and eighth (grades) -- if you remember back in 1995, I think, when we built the last schools, the county commission gave us money to build, (Carver) was actually built for K-4."

At present, Carver has 713 students enrolled, Hill said.

The move "would give us some room for the students they have and also have a few more students at Mount Olive Middle School," he said.

In these economic times, he continued, utilities and other costs justify the move and would create an atmosphere conducive to expansion, resulting in an estimated 441 students at the middle school, with grades 5-8.

The discussion is in line with the facilities plan, which at this point is in Phase I, primarily renovations and additions. But as the district moves closer to Phase II, Hill said, he envisions similar scenarios at Grantham and Spring Creek schools.

"We need to revise the facilities plan to reflect the 5-8 schools in our middle schools in Grantham and Spring Creek," he said.

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, confirmed that the administration is looking at further reorganizations in the future.

Specifically, he said, Southern Academy and Belfast Academy, the district's two alternative schools at the southern and northern ends of the county, respectively, as well as Goldsboro Intermediate and Dillard Middle schools. Reducing operational costs and better utilizing facilities were cited as reasons for the proposed organization, also targeted for the 2009-10 school year.

"The proposal would be to combine Goldsboro Intermediate and Dillard Middle into one fifth- through eighth-grade school on the Dillard campus," Taylor said, explaining that Dillard would then become a school of about 600 students.

The two alternative schools would consolidate into one, housed in the current Goldsboro Intermediate facility, Taylor said.

"We would have two separate schools -- Wayne Middle School Academy, grades 6-8, and Wayne High School Academy, grades 9-12," he said. "That would close two of our oldest facilities and move our students into a more improved facility."

No formal vote was taken on any of the proposed reorganization strategies, pending further study by administration an staff. Further discussion is expected at the board's March meeting.

But if approved, Taylor said, a public hearing will be scheduled to elicit responses from the community.

In other action at the board meeting, the 2009-10 school calendars for the district as well as Wayne Early/Middle College High School and Wayne School of Engineering, both which operate on Wayne Community College's calendar, were approved. Only one question was raised.

"Is Memorial Day on there?" asked board member Dave Thomas. "I'm just trying to prevent a controversy."

Last year's calendar did not have Memorial Day as a holiday for students, prompting much debate, particularly in the military community. For this May and next, it is a school holiday.

Meanwhile, school officials have announced at least one snow make-up day, with another pending.

Friday, March 27, originally a teacher workday, will now be a day for students, making up for the Jan. 22 snow day. There is still one more to make up, for Feb. 4. No decision has been made, said Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resources, who said it will likely be added on at the end of the year rather than take away from any other scheduled holidays already in place.