LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) Board members of the Public Schools of Robeson County voted to close one high school and consolidate four others.
Superintendent Shanita Wooten and her staff presented the plan, which was created to close a $2 million operating deficit from the 2018-2019 school year.
“When Hurricane Florence came it further impacted the Public Schools of Robeson County, and there was a decline in enrollment due to the transfer of Southside/Aspole Elementary to the innovative school district. There was also decreased funding from the county, state, and federal level,” Wooten said.
The plan will impact students in Lumberton, Maxton and Rowland schools. Schools affected include Janie C. Hargrave Elementary in Lumberton, R.B. Dean Elementary in Maxton, Rowland Middle School and Green Grove Elementary (near Fairmont) and South Robeson High School.
Since South Robeson has less than 450 students, it will no longer be a high school. Those students will be split in between Fairmont, Purnell Swett and Lumberton High. Students from Rowland and Fairgrove Middle School will move to the South Robeson High location.
The Janie C. Hargrave Elementary in Lumberton will be consolidated into W.H. Knuckles Elementary and Knuckles will become a pre-k to third-grade school.
Lumberton fourth-graders will attend L. Gilbert Carroll Middle School. It will only serve fourth and fifth grades. For those in grades six through eight, Lumberton Junior High School will be the location.
Maxton students attending R.B. Dean Elementary will consolidate into Townsend Middle School. It will become a pre-K to eight-grade school.
One parent says he bought his home across the street from Janie C. Hargrave Elementary so his three daughters could attend there.
“My kids have seen each others teachers growing up, so they already know who they want for the next grade level. They know how much the librarian and the secretary loves them, so I know that it’s going to be a foreign experience,” said Hector Miray.
The Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County met on Thursday to discuss the changes. Wooten told News13 their goal is to get everything running in the next five weeks.
“We need more equity in our district, and it shouldn’t be a matter of the quality of education being contingent upon where you live or your zip code. What we want to do is for our kids to have access to the same opportunities,” she said.
Teachers from the affected schools will have the opportunity to take job openings within the district. According to Wooten, there are over 100 jobs available.