COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — For more than seventy years, Chadbourn Middle School has brought ‘Education in a friendly environment’ in the small community. Tonight school board members approved to officially close its doors.
The school board voted 3 to 1 to close the middle school.
“All I ask is that lets just give it a chance,” said board member Randy Coleman to the gallery of neighbors who crowded to Monday meeting in opposition to the closure.
The school held roughly 100 students when the school system says it can hold more than 700. Students for this upcoming school year will be moved to Evergreen K -8 school.
School officials telling me they were saddened to make the decision, but say it had to be done.
“It was not an easy decision,” said board chair Barbara Yates-Lockamy. “It was hard, it was really difficult for me because of my district, it’s in my district and I feel like all the schools are good.”
The school board says they had to come to this decision following the special meeting with Columbus County commissioners. Parents and neighbors asked the board to look at merging Chadbourn town schools, but chairwoman Yates-Lockamy said they had to go this route.
“We weighed all options as we could. The best fit as we felt was to send the to Evergreen.”
School teachers report for work next Monday in Columbus County.
“It’s hard but I’ve got to think about the kids and the teachers and with that, we’ve got to move with haste, we’ve got to move with action and with purpose,” said Georgia Spaulding who’s the current principal at Evergreen but spent the last 16 years as the principal of Chadbourn Middle.
Spaulding says the school dates back to around 1946 and is a staple in the predominantly African-American community of Chadbourn. Town officials like Colene Kelly even spoke out sharing a resolution from the town council in opposition to the school board’s eventual closing of the middle school.
“The impact on the community will be great, there are kids who walk to school there, there are kids that bike to school,” said Rashad Roberts who has a daughter that was a student at Chadbourn Middle. “Parents that may not have transportation to get to the schools but they live in the community and they can go get their kid if something happens at the school-house, they won’t have that option if the kid goes to Evergreen.”
Roberts is also seeking election to fill the seat that Yates-Lockamy will vacate in the fall election to run for State House. Shane Enzor and Ronnie Strickland are also seeking election for the District 2 seat.
Principal Spaulding says she will begin moving supplies from Chadbourn to Evergreen by Tuesday. She expects the 4 teachers at Chadbourn to remain on staff at Evergreen as well.
Chairwoman Yatest-Lockamy says this is still in the short term as the students not collectively at Evergreen will soon move to a new facility in Cerro Gordo. Board member Coleman saying that is the light at the end of the tunnel, adding that work on the $22.5 million school should break ground soon.