LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – Board members with Public Schools of Robeson County approved a consolidation plan from June that means several schools, including South Robeson High School, Rowland Middle School, R.B. Dean Elementary, Janie C. Hargrave Elementary and Green Grove Elementary will close and combine with other schools.

Sherron Belton says she has a 5-year-old who will go to Kindergarten alongside teenagers in the Fall, and she’s concerned.

“I think it’s going to hurt them more to be around bigger kids to be ran-over, bullied or anything can happen to them,” she said.

Board members cancelled approval of their July 9 vote that would’ve kept South Robeson High open, and approved their original June 18 plan that would instead close it and four other schools.

R.B. Dean Elementary will be combined with Towland Middle School, but Superintendent Dr. Shanita Wooten says parents don’t need to worry.

“Currently, we have three Pre-K, 8 schools, so we have models to replicate and we know the best practices, we have a team here from the state, and we have some of the best administrators in the district,” said Dr. Wooten.

The board says they’ve seen a decline in enrollment and a $2 million deficit they’re working against.

Dr. Wooten says the board had a tough time making the decision, because they recognize the generational ties to the schools that will close.

“Rowland Middle School is closing, that’s at the heart of the town, and South Robeson High School, that will be closing, it will be losing its identity as a high school,” she said.

Dr. Wooten says enrollment declined to the point of losing nearly 2,000 students within the last three years.

She also says they’ll work to place teachers from schools that are closing into other vacant positions they have at schools that will be combining.