Columbus County commission asks school districts to let state leaders talk merger debate


WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) – The debate to for merging Whiteville City schools with Columbus County schools is nothing new for neighbors in the county. Tonight they had a chance to finally hear a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from commissioners on the issue, but that did not happen.

Back in the spring of 2015, Columbus County schools and Whiteville City schools were asked to give commissioners an assessment of which schools need improvements the most. The county school board met last week and unanimously approved a resolution to consolidate. However, Whiteville City schools’ superintendent says the merger would not save money and would reduce state funding.

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A majority crowd in favor of not merging school districts crowded the Columbus county board of commissioners meeting. Hoping to get an answer, but they may have not gotten the answer they wanted.

The board had two resolutions from school boards to accept or deny the merger. They say they want state leaders to make the call. They voted and approved a motion to ask the school districts to take their resolutions to the state senator and state representative to look over.

“It’s not about the name Whiteville City schools,” says Wess White who’s kids will attend Whiteville City schools.”It’s about what happens after the merger.”

County commissioners cite their study that shows a loss of state funding as well as jobs at least thirty of them. Many of them surprised this issue came up citing that in prior meetings with the two school boards, that the issue of consolidation was not brought up.

Teachers also spoke during public input upset that faculty and staff were not interviewed about the idea of a merger.

Even though the room carried a majority of supports to remain separate, there were people who want to see a fix. County school builders date back more than fifty years according to the school system’s spokesperson who presented the resolution in front of the commission. Their student enrollment is declining as well. Whiteville City schools are not in great shape in terms of infrastructure either according to the superintendent, but they are making strides and class enrollment sits above state averages.

“What are we doing as a board to create a vision for this county,” says Jack Coleman who’s kids attend school in Delco,”This county, not for Whiteville or for Delco, or Bolton.”

“I’m not saying the solutions are putting them together,” says Shawn Lewis who says she attended both city and county schools growing up.”But I am saying we’ve got to be one.”

Commissioners said the resolutions could come back up on their agenda any time from now. They do agree the issue begins with lack of funding and infrastructure.